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Day's off? More stressful than playing - 14/02/2003

   Jonathan Woodgate

I’ve spent a few days training with Woody and Paul Winsper (Windy), our fitness coach and it’s been like a mini-preseason! The back problem has cleared up and now I’m fully fit. Windy knows what he’s doing and is becoming very well respected in his field, so much so that he’s been down in Liverpool for the launch of his fitness business. All the football magazine’s were there and they used Steven Gerard to ‘model’ Windy’s fitness techniques. It’s an area of football that’s changed massively over the last ten to fifteen years, and these days there’s a great deal of thought and experience used to get the best out of players.

It’s also been interesting and enlightening to work closely with Woody. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when we signed him, but I’m being genuine when I say that his portrayal in the media doesn’t reflect what he’s like in real life. It just goes to show that his media label wasn’t in keeping with the how I found him. He’s switched on, talks a lot of sense, and has some very positive characteristics. But it’s not all good news…you wouldn’t want him on your head tennis team! We were playing with Paul Ferris and ‘Rhinehogg’ (Ryan Hogg), woeful is the word that springs to mind, all I can say is that they mustn’t be into head tennis at Leeds! On a serious note, I think the injury has given him a chance to bed into the club. He’s had time to get to know people and to settle in, so I think he’ll be better prepared for when he eventually makes his debut.

I honestly don’t know who the gaffer will be teaming him up with, Aaron, Dabi, OB, Stevie or Titus? I also feel sorry for Dabi, three clean sheets and then he’s on the subs bench. It’s deeper than that though, the media seem to have singled him out and a lot of the criticism is unjust. He’s been very good for this club, wholehearted and always committed, and in addition, he’s scored some great goals for us.

The Arsenal game was superb to watch, and although they played very well in the first half, we definitely deserved something out of the game. Their football in the first period was fantastic – typical Arsenal, but in the second it was as if they had settled for a point. If Laurent had stayed in the pitch I’m not sure they’d have gone away with anything! One things for sure, if he’d been there for the full 90 minutes it would have Arsenal rather than us who would have been on the back foot.

We all had a break from training yesterday, so it was off to town with the family. I’ve just sold a car and I’m waiting for the replacement. In the meantime I’m driving a hire car and I knew it was going to be one of those days when we couldn’t get the double-buggy into it. The tyre’s were also flat on the buggy – but atleast that helped us squeeze it far enough into the car, and although we had to drive into town with the boot up, we eventually go there! I managed to hide around the corner from Bainbridges whilst I pumped up the tyres and eventually we were ready. Of course the next thing was that one wanted to walk and one wanted to be carried – so after all the hassle we were now lugging around an empty double pushchair!!

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