With Leeds United turning all eyes to Millwall this weekend, defender Luke Ayling has been giving an insight into life under manager Marcelo Bielsa, and with some valid concerns about our style of play and whether or not it can be maintained over the course of a full season, Ayling revealed that ensuring the players could keep that kind of pace up was a huge part of training under the gaffer.
In an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post this week, the 27-year-old explained that fitness had been a major priority over pre-season and it continues to be a big focus during normal training now that the season is ticking by.
"A lot of managers say 'I want to play this way.' He's actually put the work in to get us to the stage where we can."https://t.co/fDw9V0GHai
— Leeds United News (@LeedsUnitedYEP) September 11, 2018
With seven games under his belt already in 2018/19, he actually explained that he’d never felt fitter and nor in fact had he been thinner, as under the new regime he’s lost four kilos under instruction and he wasn’t alone in the group when it came to having weight targets to hit and they are ongoing.
“I’m the fittest, the skinniest, the leanest I’ve been. I thought I was skinny before but he came in and said ‘no, four kilos is what you’ve got to lose’. We had weight targets to reach each day.”
It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that there are such strict targets in place in the modern game, especially aided by all the science and the analytics that are now in the game, but for those who have concerns about fatigue, burn out, they can probably take heart in knowing the hard yards have been put in to give the squad the best chance possible of maintaining the new standards that have been set.
Managers can often talk a good game in the press without the squad actually putting the work in behind the scenes and when that happens it’s clear for all to see. If pre-season was unlike our players had experienced before, it probably goes a long way to explaining our start to the campaign and the confidence in the group as they clearly understand the focus and what they are working towards and a united message like that would definitely effect spirit and confidence.
Millwall will be an interesting test.