Regular readers of this site or listeners to the podcast will know my irritation at footballers (most footballers at all clubs) approach to a professional lifestyle both on and off the park. Specifically my irritation comes at the level of the wages set against their professionalism and perhaps the general expectation of the use of sport science in football is summed up by the fact that Deila looking to change their diets is the story, rather than the fact that £millionaire athletes have this diet.
From my own perspective I wonder how it is necessary for this to be highlighted and dealt with at Celtic. You listen to the Commonwealth games elite athletes, especially in the Chris Hoy programme that aired just before the games, and none of these guy would even consider the type of diet some of the Celtic stars appear to have. Again, it perhaps says more about the sports science education of young players across the UK that they have to be told that such a dietary regime is unacceptable.
I suppose what I find frustrating is that this is not the first time I heard of such a message at Celtic Park. When Strachan arrived I was fortunate enough to deal with a number of players including Adam Virgo. I recall Adam telling me of the dietary sheet of acceptable and unacceptable food he’d been provided with when he arrived at Celtic. I recall Adam telling me that Strachan had identified that many of Celtic’s goals the previous season had been in the first and last 5 minutes of each half and that this was a sure sign of lack of fitness. I recall him telling me that there was a challenge as the older established players of the MoN era had no interest in changing (all of these guys quickly left). Finally I recall Virgo bemoaning the challenge of hitting his own BMI target. That we once again 5 years later are discussing some of the same points is a little disappointing begging the question on how we have regressed.
On a more positive note Celtic have brought in a manager to implement these changes and as they showed with Gordon Strachan previously they will ensure changes go through, even if they have to assist the new manager in clearing the decks of the established stars, they won’t fall foul of player power as Murray did when he took the side of players over a respected coach and eventually led to the liquidation of Rangers and their buy, buy buy strategy.
On a positive note, the noises coming from Celtic and the strategy of Deila continue to be positive. I sent the Scotsman piece over to my sports science friend who has no interest in football but is an expert in this area. His reply was just what I wanted to hear:
“You know I’m no football expert but it sounds like you’ve got an excellent manager who really knows what he’s doing. Football is regularly criticized in my industry for ignoring the obvious. I really like his approach. Less mass means a superior power to weight ratio, and the correct nutrition will lead to less fatigue and injuries through better recovery.”
Imagine someone telling you “I’ll pay you £1m a year for 4 years. In return you must not drink alcohol, eat crap (crisps, chips etc) and no carbonated and sugar drinks” we’d all say, drop that to get £1m a year? Of course.
Because Scottish managers, in the main, teach their players what they were taught.
Eat what you like and drink alcohol, although some advise ‘in moderation’.
Paul Le Guen failed miserably in trying to impose a healthy diet regime at the now Deadco.
It takes new people with new ideas to improve things, and Deila has brought that to Celtic, and to my surprise the players seem to be going along with it.
Long may it last!.