John Anderson

THE United players report back for pre-season training on Monday and caught up with former Magpie favourite John Anderson to get his thoughts on how pre-season used to be in his day.

The Republic of Ireland international, who made 339 appearances for the black 'n' whites between 1982 - 1992, has fond memories of his time at St. James' Park. But as the 50-year-old explains, pre-season training was never his favourite time of the year 

John, who now co-commentates on United for BBC Radio Newcastle, said: "If anyone said to me that they enjoyed pre-season then they were lying through their teeth.

"It was like going to the dentist. You were never quite sure what would happen or what it would be like, but you just knew you would feel rotten afterwards.

"For the first week we hardly saw a ball, it was just running, running, and then more running, and yes, a few of the lads felt a little queasy if I can put it that way - not a pleasant sight. 

"I played under five different managers, Arthur Cox, Jack Charlton, Willie McFaul, Jim Smith and Ossie Ardiles and whilst they all had their own methods, it was basically the same each year. Nowadays it's all different though, and for the better, as they have fitness coaches, dieticians, performance analysts and the like.

"It's a lot more scientific and I'm sure each player has their own tailored programme to work to.

"But at the end of the day it's all about getting fit and that never changes. You could keep yourself in shape during the close season, as I know many players do, but even doing that would never quite prepare you for pre-season. I remember you were always delighted when the first week was over as that was undoubtedly the toughest.

"Do I miss it? Not one litle bit!"