City's first team squad, minus some of its internationals who have been given an extra week’s holiday, headed for Germany this morning for some intensive pre-season preparation and a low profile warm up match with 1860 Munich.
Boss Mark Hughes was first a visitor to the training camp during his days as a player at Bayern Munich and is quick to defend its false reputation as some kind of boot camp.
“It is a good place to go in terms of morale, bonding, and giving us that base of fitness we need. I know the area well and everything that we need is there,” he enthused.
“The training pitches are fantastic and we are in an environment where we are all close together. There are some new faces for everyone to get to know. From that point of view it ticks all the boxes.
“It cannot be called a boot camp by any stretch of the imagination though it is a work place. I think Bayern still go there now and have been going for three decades or more.
“The trip will be especially useful for us because our pitches and the buildings at Carrington are having extensive work done to them to upgrade them. We are trying to give the guys doing all the work around the training ground a month’s grace or so and by the time we are back from South Africa all the work will be done.”
The boss had the staff and players back on Saturday morning – Craig Bellamy was the first to arrive – when they went through routine tests designed to show current levels of fitness.
“We tested the lads on a number of bench mark fitness levels over the weekend – they were tested on the same ones before they left – with the intention that they would be fairly close to where they were at the end of last season,” revealed the manager.
“They all went away with an individual programme shaped to their needs. They days of letting yourself go in the summer have long disappeared. Professionals these days know they will be left behind if they do that.
“There is a lot of science behind what we are trying to achieve on the fitness front. It is not just a case of running from day one like we used to. We have an excellent sports science department and everything is geared up for us to be the best the players can be on the first day of the season at Blackburn Rovers.
“We want to hit the ground running because this is an important year for us.”