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TOUR DIARY: DAY THREE
IF PAOLO Di Canio, in one of his eccentric moments, ever chooses to invent his own chocolate bar the branding has already been written.
Forget ‘work, rest and play’ - the strapline Mars employ to market their product - the Di Canio bar could be aptly accompanied by the phrase ‘eat, sleep and run’.
That is the philosophy the Swindon manager seems to have based his side’s tour of Italy around, and my word does it make you exhausted just looking at it.
I’ll give you as concise a description as I can of the routine the players go through every day.
After breakfast the squad is expected at training at 9.30am where fitness coach Claudio Donatelli contorts their bodies in all directions in some form of pseudo-yoga warm-up.
There follows either a series of shuttle runs or weights sessions, all meticulously choreographed by Donatelli, before Di Canio takes over.
On day one, the Town boss pushed his players to the limits with a series of three one-minute laps of their training pitch, interspersed with 30-second breaks.
On day two, this stamina exercise was replaced by shooting practise – but not shooting practise as you and I know it.
In fact, just to get the chance to have a pop at goal, the players had to dance between the rungs of a ladder, rise for a header, turn sharply around two posts, jump two hurdles and sprint into the penalty area.
I’d have been sprawled out on the floor after a single run, but these guys have buckets of energy.
Paul Caddis has told us already this week that they know they’re not here on holiday, and to be fair they have little chance to even get it into their heads that they are.
The players are not allowed out of Hotel Veronello during the five-hour period of rest between training sessions, and only in the evening can they pop down to the local town, Lazise, to see the sights.
On Monday night, the travelling media were tucking into pizza and a cold beer in the centre of the town, which is beautifully located right on the waterfront by Lake Garda, when the whole squad arrived – taxi by taxi – to stroll around.
All dressed uniformly, they cast a slightly envious eye over our dinner before, in large groups, they wandered off into the Italian evening – leaving us all feeling slightly guilty and unfit.
That Donatelli later arrived alongside the rest of the coaching staff, shaking his head at our chosen diet, only exaggerated that.
It can’t be much fun being cooped up in a hotel room for most of the day with little to nothing to do, but Swindon Town’s footballers are keeping most of their grumblings to themselves.