Why Sheffield United's Spanish training camp was about more than just fitness amid 42-degree heatwave
The mercury touched 42 degrees Celsius. Sheffield United’s players were put through a series of lung-busting runs. And when they touch down back in England today, they will be much better for the experience of their overseas training camp ahead of the new season.
Their week-long stay in Spain was about much more than simply conditioning their players, although a heatwave which saw Spain one of the hottest places on earth last week will have helped the Blades’ medical staff eke every last drop of sweat out of their charges.
It was important for different reasons. One, with new manager Slavisa Jokanović still only officially two weeks into his job, to allow the United party to live in each other’s pockets; discover more about the new boss, and vice versa.
Also, to help draw a line under last season’s disappointment of relegation. United’s squad has always been a tight-knit one, but it would be understandable, even expected, if small cracks began to appear after a season of such strife.
One man returning to the fold was Rhys Norrington-Davies the Welsh international who began last season on loan at Luton Town and then finished it at Stoke City.
“It was a good session, a tough one as well,” Norrington-Davies said of Monday’s gruelling work in the searing Spanish heat before returning to the more modest climes of the UK today.
“The runs at the beginning are probably needed and then building into the ball work afterwards, to sharpen us up going into the season. So it was a good session.
“With the heat, it's been a tough week out here. It's been very hot. There's a bit more of a breeze today but it's the hottest day so far and it was a tough one for the boys.
“But it’s been a great week.”
United will continue their pre-season preparations with a number of behind-closed-doors friendly games, but hope to welcome fans into their final two matches before the new season starts – away at Doncaster Rovers on July 28, and at home to Norwich City, newly promoted to the Premier League, three days later.