Hang on. In this age of football enlightenment, was it not ball skills that players were supposed to be trying to improve? Wasn't the idea that they would stay behind after training, to sharpen their shooting and hone their first touch?
If anybody's putting in extra time, it can only be to choreograph post- goal celebrations. That extraordinary routine unveiled to honour Roberto Di Matteo's winner for Chelsea against Middlesbrough last week - repeated for Gianluca Vialli's strike against Coventry on Saturday - is influenced, apparently, by Michelangelo's Creation. Well, they are proud of their cultural heritage, these Italians.
Equally so, it seems, are the dominant English (and Welsh) contingent at Nottingham Forest, who have come up with an astonishingly elaborate number based on that most English of pastimes, a cricket match.
The cue is a goal by Kevin Campbell, at which point Campbell strikes the pose of a batsman, Dean Saunders becomes the bowler and the rest of the team take up fielding positions. Campbell executes an imaginary stroke, one player pretends to take a catch and then they all jump up in unison.
They gave it a run-through during Campbell's hat-trick at Coventry, his first for Forest, and they promise to be more fluent still next time. It may be a while. After Campbell scored his first hat-trick for Arsenal he went three months without another goal.
Tied-up and collared
Whatever Leicester bring to the Premiership, the competition's first Press room bouncers will not be among them.
Rumours have spread that reporters assigned to Filbert Street this season will have to run the gauntlet of night-club style doormen after last May's play-off winners announced a media dress code - with denim banned and collar and tie essential.
Had the sight of members of the Fourth Estate mingling with VIPs in his plush new Carling Stand offended the eye of the chairman? Press officer Paul Mace insists the grapevine has exaggerated the story. "It has been blown up out of all proportion," Mace protests.
"It is true there is a dress standard in the part of the ground where the Press room is situated," he adds. "We do not allow spectators and guests in that area to wear denim or trainers and we don't think it is unreasonable to ask the media to comply.
"But no one is going to be turned away and there is certainly no insisting on collars and ties. In fact, there was somebody from the Independent wearing jeans on Saturday."
Sniffy attitudes towards the Press are not unknown in the Premier League. Indeed, at some clubs, their existence has been rendered so discreet as to be invisible. Leeds and Manchester United, for example, have been very clever, ensuring that Press rooms all neatly interconnected, which means that guests and grubby hacks need never meet.
Samba rather than soul is more likely to be the preference of Middlesbrough's lesser known Brazilian, Emerson. But the quality of the midfielder's performances has had them dancing on the ceiling which is more than Lionel Ritchie has managed for a while.
2= Chris Armstrong (Tottenham); Dean Sturridge (Derby County); Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal); Duncan Ferguson (Everton); Emile Heskey (Leicester City); Richie Humphreys (Sheffield Wed); Tommy Johnson (Aston Villa); Steve McManaman (Liverpool); Niall Quinn (Sunderland); Alan Shearer (Newcastle Utd); Guy Whittingham (Sheffield Wed).
fact and fiction from the Sunday papers
Brian Little says a new striker is not his priority, denying a move for Newcastle's Paul Kitson, and yet The People claim the Aston Villa manager is lining up a pounds 5m bid for Stan Collymore whom, they say, manager Roy Evans has been trying to off-load for several weeks following a series of bust-ups. But Evans will want Steve Staunton as well as cash. Meanwhile, the Sunday Express reports that David Ginola is for sale at pounds 4m, with Barcelona and Paris St-Germain as well as Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea interested in the Frenchman, said to be craving a more cosmopolitan club. Arsenal, according to the News of the World, have raised their offer for Milan striker George Weah to pounds 13m but have been told by the Italians that they must go higher. Everton, The People says, are considering a pounds 3m-plus move for Ajax's Finnish striker Jari Litmanen.
TEAM OF THE WEAK
THE SEASON'S YELLOW AND RED CARDS
Benali sent off v Leicester
Pearson sent off and five others booked v Nottingham Forest
Stewart booked v Liverpool
Lebouef and Clarke booked v Coventry
Take a bow
PAUL KITSON (Newcastle United)
Not every Geordie jumped for joy when Alan Shearer turned up on Tyneside. For Peterlee-born Paul, who has started two League matches in 18 months - the last in February - Shearer represents just another obstacle, as if trying to force out Les Ferdinand or Faustino Asprilla were not enough. He is too good to be wasting away in the reserves.
Watch out for...
JODY MORRIS (Chelsea)
Comfortable on the ball and not even remotely fazed to have Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Di Matteo for company on the field, it is hard to believe that Morris will not be 18 until December. Or that he began this season with just 20 minutes of Premiership experience. Ruud Gullit might struggle to get his place back...
PREMIERSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK
"The fans have every right to be unhappy. We look a poor side. The only way we can stop goals at the moment is to board them up"
KEVIN KEEGAN, offering no excuses after Newcastle's stuttering start continued.
"People ask what is the difference between this season and last. The answer is we have different players and a different staff"
DAVID PLEAT, offering a reasonable explanation for the upturn in Wednesday's fortunes
"This kind of thing is ruining the game. Referees and the people who run the game will have to start looking at themselves as this kind of thing is becoming farcical"
BRYAN ROBSON, reacting to having one player sent off and five booked in a game of 10 cards.
"The referee might not have seen it but the linesman should have stuck his flag up. I know where he could have stuck it"
RON ATKINSON, still hanging on to his sense of humour
"Paulo told me that ever since he was a little boy playing on the streets of Lisbon he always wanted to play for West Ham, but on the way had to stop off at Benfica and Milan."
HARRY REDKNAPP, hailing Futre's exuberant performance.
"It is going to be hard for us but we now know what we have to do. And with all due respect to these players the team has to be strengthened."
GRAEME SOUNESS, assessing Southampton's survival prospects with harsh realism.Reuse content