Thursday 14 February ~

Often with some justification, foreign players in England can get upset with the native playing culture, weather or national culinary tradition. Georgi Hristov, Macedonia's all time leading scorer, might be an extreme example in complaining about the the amount of beer Barnsley girls drank, but more recently, Rolando Bianchi's brief stay in Manchester culminated with him “raising a white flag to English food”. But at Tottenham at least culinary traditions are changing, and quickly. In October, fitness coach Marcos Alvarez photographed the club buffet, a spread that included: sauces, cakes, chocolate muffins, and a “box full of sweets”. The squad was calculated to be 16 stones overweight and a new regime, banning alcohol, tomato ketchup, fruit juices and chocolate, began. Today virtually every paper informed us that eight stones have been shed so far.

The whole episode carried more than a whiff of reality television with Juande Ramos resembling Supernanny summing up the successful disciplining of problem-eater children: "At the start they complained because we were taking away the things they liked. But gradually they have understood that we have done it so they can improve, and as the results have improved they have realised that it is necessary... They have seen how their performances have improved and the team has moved up the League and they have accepted it." You can almost see Jermaine Jenas on the naughty step.

Pre- and post-weight regime photos of Tom Huddlestone, and a naming and shaming of the rapidly slimming Paul Robinson and Michael Dawson, echoed a self-improvement diet programme. Though it does seem to be paying off, with the Tottenham midfielder claiming it has revived his career, though admitting that he misses ketchup on his chicken and informing us all that water goes straight through him.

As the Independent pointed out, this “culinary revolution” has been a relatively recent one but it is a welcome one. We've just got the rain, alcohol consumption and long-ball tactics to worry about now. Ed Upright


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