First Team 1 week ago

Fitness Update: “They Are Working Very Hard”

By Kevin Affleck

The first-team players have been prescribed detailed home programmes and have stepped up the levels of intensity this week as they continue to adjust to life away from the training ground.

No return date has yet been given for life to resume at the London Colney training base as the country seeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus, so the players have been working out at home.

Nigel Pearson's squad were given a "basic programme" to follow last week but fitness coach Victor Cervera said that has now been modified and ramped up.

“The programme has changed a bit,” he said. “They have a couple of sessions during the day: a muscular part in terms of strength and another one for cardiovascular fitness. That CV session is done on a bike, on a treadmill or some have been doing it in the park if they haven't got the facilities at home. We want to modulate the week and touch all parts of the physiological core. They are focussing on the basics, building the aerobic capacity, building the capacity to work in volume and then working on specific zones. It is a good moment to build parts of the fitness that you wouldn't work on during the season.”

Troy Deeney, João Pedro, Ben Foster, Ignacio Pussetto and Kiko Femenía have all posted videos on social media of their workouts, and Cervera said that is reflective of how the whole group are buying into these unusual circumstances.

“They are working very hard,” said Cervera. “The engagement in the programme has been high. They are completing all the sessions we have prescribed and some of them are contacting me asking to do more. Sometimes I need to stop them and say 'Today is not the day' as it's important they stay in their physiological zone otherwise it interrupts the sessions we have planned. I am texting them daily and we can make the next micro cycle a bit harder if necessary.”

The whole thing is being done remotely to avoid social contact, but the attention to detail is forensic.

“We want to be controlling exactly what they are doing,” said Cervera. “We have sent heart-rate bands to their houses and we'll use the date for our internal log. When they work out, they have to wear the heart-rate band and then we can ensure they are working properly and they upload the session to the App. We can check the timings are correct, minutes they have passed in every zone, their average power, calculate the calories they are burning and also record the perception of how hard they think they are working from a scale of one to ten. We know exactly what they are doing and I'm in contact with them daily so I can understand any difficulties they have. I stay on them every day.”

Goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann is keen to make sure he is ticking all the fitness boxes so he comes back in the best possible shape.

“We are all in the same situation,” said Bachmann. “We just want everyone to get back healthy and stay safe. At the same time we know we have got to stay ready as we don't know if and when we are going to restart. We've got a bit of time off and we can't switch off completely. You've got to be ready for when the call comes to train and play again.”

1 week ago

Dream Team: Ronny Rosenthal's XI

Ex-Watford and Liverpool forward Ronny Rosenthal reveals who would make a best XI of former teammates from both clubs, including himself…


“He was a top goalie. He played at the top level and won so many league titles and cup finals with Liverpool.”


“Steve could also play on the left, but he was right-footed so I will pick him here. He was quick, aggressive and hard-working.”


“I wanted to put Tommy Mooney, because with me in the beginning he was a defender. But I will choose Robert Page because he was a tough defender, very hard-working and he had a lot of personality.”


“It was between Hansen and Gary Gillespie, but Hansen was not only a good defender but he was technically good too. He had great physique and was the captain as well.”


“He was good going both ways. He was quite strong, and a great defender.”


“He was a good defensive midfielder – very strong, with good speed and a fantastic shot. His shot technique was very, very good. So powerful!”


“Steve was a good all-rounder. He had a great engine, and was an international for England too. He was great in defence and attack and again was very hard-working. That was what Liverpool was like at the time.”


“He was a top player, a talented player. He had two good feet, could see a pass and set up a lot of goals. I would have him as a more offensive midfielder because of Johnson and McMahon.”


“John Barnes had everything that you needed in a football player – technique, speed, goalscoring ability, vision, and of course he played for both teams.”


“He was a top goalscorer who proved himself over many, many years. A typical centre-forward who could score from any position with both feet, and his positional awareness was great. He was always in the right place in the box.”


“At the time I was the quickest player in the Premier League and a player who would go straight to the goal. I was quite decisive and could make things happen. Physically it was difficult for me to make it happen all game, so sometimes I would come off the bench and try to decide the game.”