PAOLO Di Canio says superior fitness will be the hallmark of his Sunderland squads of the future.
And he believes the fitness improvements he over-saw in his brief time in charge last season were key to the Black Cats avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
Several former footballers were sceptical about Di Canio’s ability to conjure fitness improvements at the fag end of a season – suggesting that the only improvements were players trying harder upon the arrival of a new manager.
But Di Canio himself is certain that the players benefited from the extra training ground work.
“People said, how can you improve at this stage of the season?” he reflected.
“There were many ex-professionals saying, why is Di Canio talking about fitness?
“And of course you can’t change things straight away.
“But what you can do is, instead of two very light training sessions, is have five very heavy sessions.
“That doesn’t mean you can see a difference in the first, or even second week.
“But by the third week, you can see and measure the changes in physical condition.
“Against Stoke – 10 versus 11 – you saw that.”
Di Canio’s views are backed up by statistical evidence and he promises that from the very start of next season, Sunderland will be well-prepared.
“We monitor every training session with the GPS system and the statistics we got showed a big change.
“Every player covers approximately nine kilometres during a game, with 1.6km of that at a high intensity over 25 yards.
“The GPS system shows trends.
“During the training session, individually, they used to cover 2.6km, or 2.6km including the warm-up.
“Now we cover 7.5km, – even in the light sessions.
“That’s nearly three times.
“But how can you run 9km against your opponents if you’re not doing something similar in training?
“The intense moments previously were 230 metres, now we cover 1,200 metres.
“How can you do it in the game if you don’t prepare yourself during the week?
“You cannot be ready.
“If you try, you get injured, or are tired after 10 minutes, so that is why we place such store on working so hard in training.
“It is all about preparation.
“I believe we saw an improvement in the last few weeks of the season and I believe we will see it even more next season.”