Sunday July 11
PRE-SEASON. Two words to make even the most seasoned professional shudder. It doesn't seem a week, let alone a year, that we were arriving in South Africa for our pre-season tour last summer. But the alarm at 5am on Sunday morning only signalled one thing - there was a plane to catch. So it was bleary-eyed down to Spurs Lodge for a 7am meet and early departure for Heathrow's Terminal Three.
IT'S the opening chapter of a new era at the club. The management structure is in place and everyone is here - Frank Arnesen (Sporting Director), Jacques Santini (Head Coach), Martin Jol (first assistant) and Dominique Cuperly (coach) alongside Chris Hughton (assistant coach), Clive Allen (development coach) and Hans Segers (goalkeeping coach).
THE flight opened my eyes to what Kasey Keller and his team-mates are up against back in the US of A. Seated with a young, mixed 'soccer' club from America on their way to a huge youth tournament in Gothenburg, the conversation went like this:
American girl: "What team are you with?"
Me: "Tottenham Hotspur."
Me: "You've only heard of Manchester United, haven't you?"
American girl: "And (the other team in north London)."
Me: "Never mind, you see that man over there (Kasey Keller was standing up), he is your American national soccer team goalkeeper."
American girl: "Oh."
Me: "Your national team is very good at the moment."
American girl: "Are they?"
Smiles. Turns iPod back on.
ANYWAY, having left Heathrow slightly late, we arrived in Gothenburg at 1pm UK, 2pm local time. No Zulu Warrior welcome on the tarmac this time - it was straight to baggage collection and to our hotel base approximately 25km from the airport. Sweden is a lovely country, full of Pine Forests, so green, so clean, the people so friendly. But this is no sightseeing tour, this is a training camp and after the briefest of bites for lunch, the players were doing just that.
FRANK and Jacques watched every move as first Dominique, then Martin, put the players through their paces - plenty of running, stretching, one or two ball routines, more stretching and that was that, first session over. It was back to the hotel for dinner and an early night for most - alarms were set to go off at 6.45am for a 7am start on Monday morning.
From Paul Miles in Sweden