Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spurs Player Busting A Gut

It was amusing to read in recent days of Spurs manager Juande Ramos' shock, upon meeting his new charges three months ago, at finding that he would be managing a male, twentysomething version of the Roly Polys. Apparently the players' fondness for previous manager Martin Jol extended to developing rotund physiques a lot like the Dutchman's.

It seems that a key part of Ramos' epic adventure to 11th place in the Premier League and a Carling Cup final place has involved putting the podgy Spurs players through a version of RTE's Operation Transformation, only with the consolation of having Gus Poyet manning the scales instead of Slobberin' Gerry Ryan.

Ramos' instigation of a strict new dietary regime saw the cream buns banned from the training ground canteen, with immediate benefits. Tom Huddlestone has been the most high profile Weight Watcher doing the Ramos Diet, but the overall effect of improved diet on the squad helped them to their five-goal thrashing of Wengers Waifs in last week's Carling semi-final.

All well and good, but did it really need a foreign manager with the customary battalion of sports scientists and nutrionary boffins to tell the burger-munching Spurs lads that laying off the lard might help their form?

As an amply upholstered, firmly ensconced member of the sedentary class, I always presumed that footballers, being, well, athletes, would have had the avoidance of snack boxes and suchlike as a veritable mantra.

Yes, I understood that previous generations of players refuelled after training sessions with a balanced meal of lager and crisps. But that was the past. We forgive our forebears their mistakes borne of ignorance: slavery, feeding porter to babies, boiling down homosexuals to make glue. But surely the footballers of today know fully and well that a Mars a day doesn't actually make you work, rest and play.
See, because I reckoned that footballers were denying themselves all manner of cream-laden, deep-fried, cheesey, beery pleasures in conscientious devotion to their profession, I turned a blind eye to many of their infamous extra-curricular trangressions.

It's hardly surprising, I reasoned, that these young men, rigourously adhering to a monastic aversion to most common vices, might, as a consolatory treat, find themselves occasionally in the midst of a logistically complex and barely consensual act of sexual depravity. With lifestyles, I contended, that required repeated refusal to yield to the sensual delights of the larder and the keg, how surprising was it that the poor souls might relent to the odd offer of a tri-partite episode of casual rumpy.

But, as Juande Ramos found out when he fetched up in North London, it seems that footballers have been having their cake and eating it.



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