Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tottenham Hotspur’s players were dragged into the era of Juande Ramos with a double training session yesterday. Arriving first and leaving last, the head coach put his charges through their paces for the first time, with a warm-down in the morning and a practice match in the afternoon.

Only on a few occasions since pre-season have the players been asked to do a double session, which are used to accelerate fitness levels. Ramos also wanted to use the extra time to get to know the players, but it was a first contrast with the regime of Martin Jol, the former manager. The Dutchman used to have the players do one session of light training on the day after a match.

During a meeting with the squad, Ramos explained his football philosophy, theory and tactics, emphasising the positives from their spirited display in the 2-1 defeat by Blackburn Rovers at White Hart Lane on Sunday. He will drip-feed some of his ideas over the next few days but did not want to suffocate the players with too much information so soon before they play Blackpool at home in the fourth round of the Carling Cup tomorrow. Ramos is expected to play a full-strength team in a competition that offers a place in Europe that could be beyond Tottenham in the Barclays Premier League.

The Spaniard will leave nothing to chance at the club’s training ground in Chigwell, Essex. One of his former players once put sticky tape over his mouth in protest at the severity of pre-season training. At Seville, where he was coach for two years until last week, he employed a psychologist to establish belief among the team and the Tottenham players can also expect a new diet regime. The Seville players drank vegetable smoothies at half-time.

“He came into the dressing-room for one minute,” Radek Cerny, the goalkeeper, said. “It was good to see as everyone was very disappointed after the match. He went around the room and said, ‘Come on guys, heads up, you have to play for not 60 or 70 minutes but 90 minutes.’ It is important he comes in and does something straight away, gets the confidence across to the players, because there’s not a lot wrong right now, apart from maybe a few things at the back.”

Ramos was assisted yesterday by Gustavo Poyet after compensation was agreed with Leeds United for their former assistant manager. Poyet, a Uruguayan, will be charged with translating some of the more complicated tactics from Spanish while Ramos improves his English. Poyet retired in 2004 as a player after three years at White Hart Lane and became an assistant at Swindon Town before joining Leeds.

The pair will want to address some of the gaping deficiencies in the Tottenham team: the slack, unconnected central defensive partnership and the lack of combative and creative midfield players.

Any additions may not come from Seville, however, after Ramos was given a hands-off warning about his former players. “Seville does not want to sell any of its stars,” José MarÍa del Nido, the Seville president, said. “The English clubs, who look at our players, should know that when we want to keep our players, we do. Tottenham will get the response they deserve. I doubt they have the money to buy [Daniel] Alves and [Frédéric] Kanouté.”

Del Nido claims that Tottenham have offered only £200,000 in compensation. “I can assure you that we will pour all of our energy and all of our force into making sure that Tottenham pay the consequences of this situation,” he said. “This is a situation that they have illegitimately provoked. We will do everything in our power and use all the means at our disposal to make sure of that.”

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