THE largely cosseted life of a professional footballer – where the hours are not particularly long and the rewards are great – is envied by the man in the street.
Finished and away from the training ground at 2pm at the latest for the most part in the regular working week while others are slaving away at the office can not be half bad.
But there are a few noteworthy exceptions to the rule.
One of them is Huddersfield Town, where daily double training sessions under new head coach David Wagner are the servings on the winter menu.
For someone like Sean Scannell, a laid-back guy who readily admits to liking his sleep in the afternoons, it is a bit of a sea-change.
He is taking plenty of light-hearted banter from his mates at being thrust back into the real world. But, for his part, the Wagner regime is something Scannell is embracing, even if it is thoroughly demanding.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post as darkness descended on Huddersfield’s Canalside training ground, Scannell said: “Some of my friends working in London are ringing me up saying: ‘You have got a job like me now.’
“But it is football and you do whatever you have to in order to get better.
“I am loving it and it’s really good. Everything in training is really competitive and every small-sided game is like a real game.
“It’s been really intense and hard. But it is getting us fitter and with the way we play, we need to be fit.
“I actually do like the double sessions. It’s making me fitter and better.
“But whenever I get free time now, I just shut my eyes!”
Most people will forever associate southern Spain with sun, sand, sea and sangria, but for Scannell and his Town team-mates, there was certainly a twist when they headed to the famous resort of Marbella in the last international break for a short, sharp shock under their new coach.
Recreation and letting their hair down was pretty much taboo. Instead, graft and sweat was the order of the day, with Town players afforded a stark insight into former Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Wagner’s demands from his players and his exacting training regime.
But if Town’s recent performances are anything to go by, it has been a restorative trip.
Scannell said: “Going to Marbella was the perfect time to go away with the new manager.
“We had a fresh week, but a hard week as well.
“Everything is now starting to tick, but I still think he has a lot more to show us and he wants us to do a lot more and we are just looking forward to the future.
“Everyone likes the way he is. He gets the point across and everyone is enjoying it.
“When you watch German football, you see everyone is ridiculously fit. It wasn’t that we weren’t fit, but the intensity in training was a shock.
“But we are getting used to it and it’s our daily thing. But, at first, it was quite hard.
“Footballers have to get used to it straight away. If he eased us in, we might not get used to it as quick. Marbella was really hard, but good for us and in that week alone, all of us felt we were getting fitter.”
Little was known by Town supporters about gegenpressing before Wagner arrived at the club – but it is now quickly entering the club’s alphabetical lexicon alongside Greaves, Glazzard and Gowling.
That relentless and intense style of ferocious football that Wagner favours places particular demands upon wing players like Scannell who have to put in a sustained shift.
Not that he is complaining, with the rewards already there to see given the club’s last three vibrant and energised performances.
Scannell added:: “On the wing, you have to put in a shift and get fitter. It’s the fittest I have ever been. Definitely.
“We know what Dortmund are about and all the top teams play that way the manager likes.
“It’s a hard way of playing, but once you get used to it, it’s really good.
“The fitness demands are quite hard in my role. But every day, I am getting fitter and fitter and looking forward to every game.
“Every game, I am getting more and more confident.
“With my role, me and the full-back work as a team and whoever is tucked in, the other one has to come out wide.
“It is not that complicated, but it is quite a shift. It just needs communication and a bit of confidence.”
After his milestone first win as Town chief at St Andrew’s last weekend, Wagner is now eyeing another breakthrough by way of a first home victory in charge of the club.
One was cruelly taking from Town’s grasp by Middlesbrough in their last home encounter – the visitors winning with their two shots on goal.
Town may not have been afforded points when they trooped off the pitch at the final whistle on November 28, but they were bestowed with praise from home patrons at the John Smith’s Stadium, who warmed to what was a stylish and intense performance of substance.
As brave new dawns go, there was a lot to be heartened by, as Scannell was the first to acknowledge.
“Even though we lost 2-0, the way we played was ridiculous, really. If we’d won, it would have been the best performance ever.
“We pressed literally every minute of the game and even though we lost, we played them off the park when we were on the ball, to be fair.
“It was a step in the right direction and we need to keep going. We are playing better football.”