Now I do appreciate this is a blessing to many but a bit of a disappointment to me as I thought I would be regaling the pleasure of listening to an abundance of “singers” this particular evening. However, that was curtailed at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. Well unforeseen to me as Thomas had arranged a meeting and, whilst he too was desperate to hear what was on offer, he rightly opted for the meeting. So you can look forward to hearing about that in my next Blog…the “singing” that is not the meeting.

So back to the Blog: Following the excitement generated by the previous evening’s entertainment, it was just business as normal come Monday morning , albeit prior to brekkers we all had to have one of our twice weekly COVID Tests. This, as a Premier League club, is a statutory requirement whether you are a player or a staff member. The beauty of such regular testing is that it can flag up almost immediately should someone within the group be positive, and thus that person can be isolated immediately. You can’t over emphasise the importance of this process with everyone being in such close proximity which is no different from each and every other club.

After breakfast the schedule followed a similar pattern to Sunday’s with medical prep available to all prior to heading off to the gym with all those strange sounding contraptions, well to me at least.

Then the players and coaching staff made their way to the pitch where once again the squad were split into three groups. This time, apart from the three keepers who obviously train on their own under the guidance of Manu Sotelo, they were split simply into defenders and attackers with the emphasis, not surprisingly, on varying situations that one can expect in the exciting challenge ahead.

After training, the first of a double session today, it was time for lunch, followed by Medical prep and then more time in the gym.

Then it was time for the players' second training session of the day, and this time it concentrated on another thing that will feature regularly in the Premier…V.A.R. Now I should add that that was not the intention of the session, which included seven a side games followed by a set piece game. But our Analysts, Joe and Jack, thought it would be an excellent opportunity, so it appeared, to highlight to the players the grey areas that result from V.A.R. decisions…. or rather that was their excuse for a number of very contentious decisions concerning goals scored, or maybe not. Now don’t let anyone ever tell you that the players don’t take training seriously as a goal scored in such games is celebrated (and I mention Russell Slade’s infamous quote again) “as if they’d won the FA Cup”. Nothing wrong with that until it’s unjustly judged as being offside. Let me tell you the “argument” rolled on into the evening via WhatsApp, and I’m sure the incidents will get another mention tomorrow.

Prior to dinner, Michael Caulfield, a Sports Psychologist and a very good friend to both players and staff for the past few years, gave an excellent talk to the staff (having done similar with the players earlier in the day). It wouldn’t do justice to Michael’s presentation were I to try and summarise here but suffice to say it was very thought provoking.

And so to dinner where the highlight, apart from the excellent food on offer, yet again, was the communal singing of “Happy Birthday” to young Dominic Thompson, who came of age (21). No expense was spared with the six candles adorning his table and the individual slice of cheese cake which he was allowed to eat on his own rather than cutting it up into a multitude of pieces.

And so to bed.

Peter G.