Tottenham's Spanish manager Juande Ramos has offered a startling insight into Tottenham's revival under him by suggesting that the squad he inherited from Martin Jol last October was seriously overweight and had some very bad eating habits.
As he prepared his team for their game at Slavia Prague in the Uefa Cup tonight, Ramos and his management team revealed that the squad was 100 kilos overweight when they first arrived. Ramos and fitness coach, Marcos Alvarez, joined from Seville and one of the first things they noticed was how poorly their new players compared to the super-fit professionals they had left behind in Spain.
"When we arrived we realised straight away that the team was carrying excess baggage," Alvarez said. "I made a very simple comparison with the Seville team that we had been working with and, taking into account the size of the players, the team was basically 100 kilos over.
"So I immediately talked to Tottenham and we set the wheels in motion to change things. They have now lost between 40 and 50 kilos. Now getting the rest off is the most difficult part but we have also turned a lot of fat into muscle."
Ramos and Alvarez knew they had to change eating habits at White Hart Lane after first setting eyes on the typical first- team buffet.
Alvarez told Spanish radio station La Cadena SER: "The truth is, the first buffet I saw, I took photographs of it because it was very interesting. Lots of sauces, a lot of cakes, chocolate muffins, a box full of sweets. So we tried to put things right."
Ramos added: "At the start they complained because we were taking away the things they liked. But gradually they have understood that we have done it so they can improve, and as the results have improved they have realised that it is necessary. They have all lost weight, some drastically. But they have seen how their performances have improved and the team has moved up the League and they have accepted it."
The claims amount to a damning attack on the regime of Ramos's predecessor, Martin Jol, who was sacked in October. According to a source, the Dutchman believes that his record stands for itself – with Spurs having played 59 games last season and finishing strongly to secure fifth place in the Premier League. "There are different ways to condition players and just look at how they have peaked in the past. Maybe the question that should be asked at Spurs right now is just how many players are getting injured," a source said.
The source also suggested that Ramos and his team should be questioning the role of Spurs' sporting director Damien Comolli who, it is claimed, had greater control of the club's backroom staff and the nutrition provided than Jol. "If you go into a club the first thing you say is that either the players are not good enough or not fit enough. It's a cheap shot," the source said. "Maybe we should just see in what condition the players are come the end of the season and how they finish."
Spurs, who were in the bottom three of the table when Ramos joined, are now 11th and play Chelsea in the Carling Cup final next weekend. Ramos stressed that turning flab into muscle had been as important as overall weight loss. "It's not just a case of losing weight; if you can convert the fat into muscle then that can be a good thing too," he said.
One player who has benefited from the new regime is midfielder Tom Huddlestone. "Most of the food we are told to eat now is dry and we are told not to have too much sugar," he said recently. "I miss ketchup with my chicken. But the main thing with me has been trying to stick to water instead of fruit juices which have a lot of sugar in them. I've lost a bit of weight but I'm not really concerned with that. I'm more focused on my fitness and being able to last 90 minutes, running more than I was before."Reuse content