When Brad Pitt’s Achilles uttered, ‘Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword. I rather fight beside you than an army of thousands. Let no men forget how menacing we are. We are lions,’ to his fellow brothers about to storm the beaches of Troy, he knew they were the best at what they do and wouldn’t stop until they’ve accomplished their goal. But to achieve that aim, they had to go through hell in their training.
Antonio Conte has adopted a similar strategy with Tottenham Hotspur who are about to kick off their pre-season formalities in Seoul. Within 24 hours of the team’s arrival in the Korean capital, Conte has put them under a gruelling ordeal of three training sessions that have left the players in immediate turmoil and pain.
A light training session on Sunday afternoon followed by another session on Monday morning got the players up to speed, but it was the daunting session the following evening at the Seoul World Cup Stadium before 6,000 fans that left the players gasping for breath.
The team started the warm-up with a couple of quick rondos and a 10-a-side game, but what followed was a sheer test of their resilience. In 30-degree heat and humidity that drains the water out of one’s body, the players were demanded to take 42 laps of the entire pitch with a few breaks in between. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who played international games after the season, were given 30 laps.
It was an absolute show of ‘No mercy’ from the Italian manager and his fitness coach, Gian Piero Vetrone, whose ferocious methods intend to make every player a soldier up and ready for battle. But the players who boast about their fitness seem far from ready. In a gist of making them bulletproof, Conte wanted his players to taste what preparation for war looks like.
But none of these players expected their manager to go all the way with the drill in the pre-season. With the players dropping like a stack of cards near the finish line, Football Twitter couldn’t help but pick up the pieces with a humorous touch.
Not everyone is coming back home
A user clarified Conte’s stance on signing so many players for Spurs already in the ongoing transfer window. Maybe Conte had already planned to execute this tiresome drill and see who can survive and return to England. Hopefully, the Italian would have some answers by now.
Right out of Squid Game
In a hilarious video posted by another user, we see the players almost jumping over the line in a last attempt to make it on time and put an end to their misery. It most certainly reminds us of the first drill of the hit Netflix show, ‘The Squid Game’, where failure to complete the task on time meant immediate execution. But Conte didn’t turn into a hitman and allowed his players to live.
No respite for Sonny
South Korea’s beloved boy, Son, was trolled for his first day on the job since the end of the season. The 30-year-old who greeted the manager with arms wide open at the airport a day before didn’t receive any favour from Conte for his kindness.
Irish Cafu was fighting for his life
Poor Matt Doherty looked like he was on his deathbed, praying internally for a second chance at life after going hardcore with his partying gigs the previous night.
Ndombele left at home for his own safety
A fan reminded us that Tanguy Ndombele was spared the horror of the pre-season ritual. The way he jogs would have left him completing the sixth lap while others would be at the end of their 42nd and Conte would have pulled his hair out or worse, put an end to the existence of Ndombele who is up for sale in the transfer market.
A history of violence
Even during his tenure as a manager at Chelsea and Juventus, Conte wanted his team to make the rivals spit blood. He expected his team to do what the opponents couldn’t imagine – dominate physically and make the other team suffer. Any player who didn’t cater to Conte’s demands immediately made his way to the bench. But once, Conte handed Giorgio Chiellini a ‘bib’ for crying over a small knock he picked up in the previous game.
On hearing the news about his teammates’ situation, it would elate Dejan Kulusevski to have not been a part of such a lethal routine after he walked off the pitch with a slight problem in his calf early in the session.
Conte is making demons out of his players, the ones who wouldn’t throw in the towel despite many jabs but endure and come out with a death blow, making the opponent cry for help. Hopefully, this ‘Kiss of Death’ drill would give Spurs the guile that they need for the upcoming season.