For the 6000 Korean football fans lucky enough to gain admittance to the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Monday, they were in for a treat as Tottenham Hotspur hosted an open training session while visiting the country as part of their preseason tour. For the rest of us, we get to watch it on YouTube! Korean broadcast service MBC live-streamed the entire session from the stadium on YouTube, which means that those of us who didn’t get up early to watch it live can view it in retrospect. The video is embedded as the header image in this article.
I’ll be honest and say that I have not watched the entirety of this video, mostly because I had no idea it was happening until I woke up this morning. That said, there were people who did and here are a few takeaways both from my cursory viewing and from people who had nothing better to do than to watch their favorite football team run around a pitch for a couple of hours. It’s an open training so there’s not TOO much we can take from this, but it’s kind of fun to get a glimpse of the preseason hell Premier League players have to go through under Conte.
First, the training was INTENSE. Antonio Conte is known for his grueling preseason fitness regimen and has been virtually licking his lips waiting for a chance to get his team for a full preseason, something that he wasn’t able to do last season. There’s a portion of this video near the very end of training where Conte and his staff had the players doing repeated full length sprints of the pitch that are so intense that players — Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane included — just collapse and drop out of the drills in order to catch their breath, only to rejoin the group later.
Really getting an insight into how demanding #THFC training is under Conte + especially now Ventrone.— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) July 11, 2022
Full pitch runs to finish and various players have felt the pace - Kane and Son, who are only properly beginning pre-season now among them.
The group look absolutely knackered!
It’s probably nothing we need to worry about, as we should remember that for the Tottenham internationals, this is one of the first training sessions of the preseason and they’re likely still a little out of shape after their extended vacations. They’ll be fine.
Multiple journalists including Alasdair Gold and Charlie Eccleshare noted the fitness level of Troy Parrott, whom Conte opted to bring along to Korea despite rumored loan interest from Championship side Sunderland. Parrott was said to be among the players working the hardest in the training session; he clearly has something to prove to Antonio Conte. Parrott and Pape Matar Sarr were two players that Conte said previously he wanted to have a look at in preseason before deciding whether they would head out on loan again for the 2022-23 season.
Another player that looked notable was Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. “General Ho” (who earned the moniker thanks to a fan sign dubbing him such at the Seoul airport, and yes, this is his nickname now and we won’t be referring to him by anything else) was pretty impressive in his work rate in the drills I watched and seemed to be maybe a step ahead of many of his teammates in terms of fitness.
It’s obvious how much the Korean fans love their hometown hero Son. They gasped and cheered just about every time Son touched the ball in drills. Harry Kane got a similar star treatment. Also really interesting was that the entire video had a multi-camera shoot and a Korean commentator, which is a pretty stark contrast to past open training streams that was basically a single camera with nobody talking the entire time. I have no idea what was being said, but the guy sure seemed into it.
Finally, is it just me or does Bryan Gil look a little bigger than he did last season? Gil will likely never be accused of being a big dude, but he looked emphatically twiggy last season, and in the footage I saw of him he definitely looks a little thicc, especially in his lower body. Looks like he hasn’t been skipping leg day.
If you have the patience to sit through a two hour YouTube video, put your thoughts and comments below.