MAHE’s article yesterday certainly led to some measured debate on the subject of R and R for footballers in close season. His argument being mainly that footballers have a schedule-even if not an income!-which would be intolerable for most members of the wider workforce. The lack of downtime,the discipline required even during the few breaks from work,would simply be too much for most to cope with.
Without repeating the various arguments for or against MAHE’s point of view which were offered yesterday,it reminded me of two major points which I had already planned to use as the basis for an article. The first is that we are all missing our football already-we should be in the middle of a World Cup,ffs!-and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to write about the subject when there is so little happening. Of course,we could resort to writing rumours about impending transfers,in or out,possible or entirely a figment of our imagination. Or maybe not…
The second one is that not all footballers are capable of the self-discipline required nowadays at the top level,whether that be during the season or during the breaks. There are past examples of this throughout the game. One of the most famous-if apocryphal-is about the Liverpool players under Bob Paisley who,on return for pre-season training,would be “strongly advised” to train wearing a bin liner under their jersey just to sweat out the extra pounds they had put on. Another is the infamous trips imposed by Jock Wallace on his Rangers players when he would bus them to Gullane Sands and torture them mercilessly as they threw up from the exertions.
Try that in the workplace nowadays,see how far you get!
So it was interesting to read about our former goalscoring hero,Leigh Griffiths,at the weekend. He is undergoing serious physical workouts in the gym and elsewhere,including the boxing ring,as he battles to get back to his previous weight and fitness levels while he looks for a new club.
Leigh was one of the best,most natural,goalscorers we have had at the club for some time,and he certainly suffered some serious personal problems while he was with us. The type that no-one would wish on anyone else. But I think he might,now,admit that many of them were self-imposed. That he lost sight of the big picture,that to be a top level footballer requires top level fitness and dedication to your craft.
He knows himself that he took his eye off the ball most close seasons,returning to training in a condition simply unbecoming of a top athlete. His annual summer paunch became a standing joke,but he was largely able to work that off in little or no time when he was younger. Many of us know how more difficult that becomes as we get older!
His biggest mistake,I would argue,is by coming back in his usual condition in Brendan Rodgers’ first season. This was definitely not wise,because BR’s comments to Raheem Sterling were still fresh in the memory of most of us,and it should have been obvious to Leigh that he would not look kindly on this at all.
Empire of the Kop on Twitter: “Still one of the best things Rodgers ever did – absolutely finishing Raheem Sterling during training ❤️️ 🎥Being Liverpool, Setanta Ireland https://t.co/3z1y19AWHO” / Twitter
He soon lost his place in the side to Moussa Dembele,and frankly,his Celtic career never recovered from that. Sadly,his situation also took its toll on his mental health,as we all know,and the cumulative outcome of these issues led to a parting of the ways last summer. His current training regimen has,he said,resulted in him returning to the same “fighting weight” that he had during his forty goal season under Ronny Deila. And,for that,I am genuinely delighted for him.
I always had a great deal of time for Griff. Deadly,he was,and a terrific scorer for us. To now be back to the same weight and levels of fitness last experienced seven years ago speaks volumes for the effort he is putting into his training/punishment regime. He won’t need me to tell him that it would have been easier for him to have simply maintained those levels over the years,rather than have to do it all in one fell swoop after this long.
I genuinely hope things work out for him. A fit and motivated Leigh Griffiths will be an asset to any side. I just wish it had occurred to him earlier.
Above article by BMCUWP