The football fixtures are hitting us like the fast approaching winter is: hard and fast!
So, my boys need to be equipped for the crazy schedule that the Premier League and the countless cup competitions have to offer.
What happens when pro players have two games a week? What is their schedule like? What is their recovery time? Well, I’ll let you know.
I deal with a lot of guys all over the country but I’m not fully involved with their day-to-day schedules as I am, say, with the players I have at Manchester United and Man City.
However, when my Manchester boys I see everyday – Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Phil Jones – have a crazy week, it can be quite hectic. They have lots to contend with from travel, recovery, preparation… let alone a match.
When I know a crazy week is coming, I like to ‘carb up’ the players.
And this week with Champions League and Europa League filling up their midweek, I went with a beef ragu and gnocchi dish. Sounds simple, but it can take up to four/five hours to make from start to finish and it packs more of a punch than Anthony Joshua!
If you ate this without looking with a blindfold, it would knock you spark out and you’d awake from your food coma hours later! Recipe to follow…
These weeks can be demanding. I have players with certain dietary requirements that have to be met, carb loading days, recovery food, protein snacks… all this stuff to think about to ensure the lads are ready and fuelled for the games they have.
Fortunately, I have a great relationship with the nutritionists at their clubs and thankfully they trust me to do my job and leave me be. The nutritionist at Man City, Tom Parry, is especially fantastic. But they will sometimes give me a slight nudge in a direction if a certain player requires something extra.
I get a lot of questions about what shall I eat if I have certain deficiencies etc. To tell you the truth, a lot of players have them same deficiencies.
But, if you haven’t got all the money in the world for one of those fancy tests that tell you what your body absorbs (or doesn’t in some cases), then I would suggest eating 2x white meat, 2x fish, 1x red meat and the 7th day, whatever you fancy – maybe a pizza. In fact, I’ll show you a cheeky recipe for a pizza in my next healthy junk food column. Sound good?
I’m a big believer of beetroot. Trust me, I love the stuff!! Also, it makes things look pretty and we all know we eat with our eyes first.
All jokes aside (and me dying everything pink), it actually enhances exercise performance. In the past, I have made beetroot shots for some players before games and would always try and use beetroot the evening before in my cooking, just trying to add little extra bits of detail to help the lads.
Now, this is a great little tip: Try putting it in a curry. It’s amazing and you genuinely don’t just taste it. Yet the sweetness from the beetroot is a delight on the senses. You’ll blow your mates away with this one.
Now, I know your Sunday league fixtures are starting to face a break because you can’t play on grass that closer resembles a swamp.
But – wet weather aside – look on the bright side: it will give you more time to sit in front of the TV to watch football (I hear the Man City boys have a big game at Anfield this Sunday), eat my food and then you’ll be ready to get stuck into the obscene fixture pile up coming your way. Just like the pros!