LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has instructed his players to learn wrestling techniques and is making them take part in mini bouts to improve their upper-body strength and cardiovascular fitness.
Tottenham's relentless running and superior stamina were key parts of the run that took them to within sight of the English Premier League title before a late collapse last season.
Pochettino has left no stone unturned in his quest to make sure his side stay the course this time.
A simulated wrestling drill formed a significant element of Tottenham's fitness work during pre-season, with the Argentinian drafting in a burly member of the club's medical team to wrestle with the first-team players.
During the exercise, the medic would pin a player to the floor and they were given a minute to escape from his clutches, with the players competing among themselves to see who could free themselves quickest.
The member of staff acting as the assailant is understood to have been so physically intimidating that the players jokingly referred to him as a cage fighter.
Pochettino has used similarly innovative methods throughout his managerial career and believes that working harder on fitness than their rivals can give his players an edge.
The players regularly take part in boxing sessions to build strength and endurance, although hitting pads rather than each other, and when he was at Southampton Pochettino made them walk across hot coals to foster team spirit.
The Argentinian continues to work his players at pre-season levels of intensity throughout the campaign to maintain their fitness, leading to accusations that some of them were burnt out when they failed to win any of their last four league matches and ended up finishing third last season.
THE TIMES, LONDON