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Opinion

Very important change – Data shows this is the fittest the Newcastle United squad has ever been

3 weeks ago
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It is three weeks now since the Newcastle United squad returned for pre-season preparations.

Tests done on all of the players to see how they have looked after themselves during this shortened summer break.

A season ahead that is set to be the most demanding ever, with the same number of matches to be fitted into a far sorter timeframe, due to a World Cup happening bang in the middle of this Premier League campaign.

For the Newcastle United squad then, preparation is everything, making sure they are in the best possible state when that whistle goes at 3pm on Saturday 6 August.

Great news then to read this reveal on The Athletic

‘The data collected by Newcastle’s analysts show that the squad is fitter than it has ever been.

Jonjo Shelvey’s slimmed-down appearance and Elliot Anderson’s bulked-up frame provide visual evidence of that — and the ferocity and volume of their pressing during pre-season friendlies highlights why they need to have high endurance levels.

Howe wants Newcastle to improve in all departments in 2022-23 and he does not want any other team to be able to outlast his own.

At a session in Saalfelden on Sunday, during Newcastle’s training camp there, the coaching staff put the players through a regular pressing and tackling drill.

The intensity and physicality on show was fierce — greater even than during top-flight matches.’

I know that it can be simply wishful thinking BUT since last season ended, I have got the feeling that for this current Newcastle United squad not a lot changed. A fair few NUFC players regularly post on social media and interact with fans and I did get the impression that they certainly appeared to be looking after themselves during the summer break.

Obviously it is up to the players what they post on their social media so they are usually in control of what you see…but at the end of last season it was reported that all Newcastle players had been sent away with their own individual plans for the summer, on what they needed to do in ensuring it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system when they returned for pre-season.

Whilst you ideally want to win every game, losing in a friendly doesn’t really matter. Against Mainz 05, despite the loss, I thought just as in the game against 1860 Munich, the Newcastle United squad looked in excellent shape physically.

When you consider what went before, this is a massive step forward and indeed was a huge factor in Newcastle’s remarkable recovery under Eddie Howe and the third best form in the Premier League in the final 19 games of last season.

This classic revelation will never be forgotten…

Danny Rose – 20 May 2020:

“So for me, that’s all I’d known for the past five or six years, you would play and then get one day off if you are lucky and that’s it, you’re grafting for the rest of the week.

“So now I’m at Newcastle [with Steve Bruce], you are getting two or three days off a week if you win.

“So I’m thinking what’s going on here then?

“It’s a shock to the system.

“We would only get one day off if we were lucky under Poch.”

In this interview, Danny Rose said that he had never seen anything like it before, the sheer number of days off that Steve Bruce gave himself and the Newcastle players. Rose saying they were lucky to get one day off a week at Spurs and stated that even when they won their semi-final and got into the final of the Champions League nothing changed. Danny Rose also said that he’d never heard from friends playing at other clubs, of anybody getting as many days off training as he experienced under Steve Bruce at Newcastle.

As we all know, the early part of last season was the most disastrous that Newcastle United have ever had in the Premier League.

Ironic that at half-time in the opening game, Newcastle actually looked very decent, 2-1 up at home against West Ham. Yet the second half was a nightmare and pointed towards what was to come. That second half saw Newcastle clearly physically knackered compared to their opponents, the Hammers scoring three and NUFC not having even one more effort on target.

After Steve Bruce was belatedly sacked, a series of players over a period of time admitted that the Newcastle United squad had simply been nowhere near fit enough when the 2021/22 season kicked off. These margins, big or small, do really matter.

The first thing Eddie Howe had to do, was correct this. If the Newcastle United squad wasn’t fit enough then there really was no hope.

Even some of the players who had been most blindly loyal to Steve Bruce, came out and admitted what the truth was, sometimes inadvertently.

Jonjo Shelvey on Eddie Howe’s first fortnight – 25 November 2021:

“The first week, we would train and I would be in bed by 8pm – I was knackered!

“But for fitness and sharpness, he has given us an extra 5% and a rocket up our backsides.

“He has been spot on.”

The likes of Jonjo Shelvey may not be able to fit in quite so many rounds of golf these days but he is a player who has clearly benefited from the professional dedicated Eddie Howe approach, we can see it with our own eyes. The date that the club have collected, simply confirms it.

Half a team minimum of better players added to the Newcastle United squad in 2022 and now they are the fittest they have ever been. Forget about losing 1-0 to Mainz 05 in a meaningless friendly, this NUFC team / squad is going to be in the best possible shape to hit the pitch running against Nottingham Forest.

I can’t wait.

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