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The Rutkiewicz Report: Pre-season is a gruelling time of year

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2014/15 was a long hard season filled with the up and down rollercoaster ride that football provides us with.

As fans, we get emotionally involved. Some of us get physically involved, literally kicking and heading every ball. Fatigue had gripped us all and just when we thought it was safe, BANG!! We’re back in the game.

Fortunately, July will be a lot less painful for the viewer as players will be put through a punishing training programme to make sure they are at their optimum fitness come the 1st of August.

Managers at each SPFL club will have reviewed and reflected on the season gone by. Some will have happiness and a sense of achievement, while some will have disappointment and questions as to where it went wrong.

Right now, within every wall at every ground there is one overwhelming similarity; the drive and ambition to improve performance and results over the next eleven months.

So how do clubs go about achieving this?

It all started many months ago with the clubs battling it out over the season all looking to hit their respective goals.

To do this, players will have to be fit and committed, whilst managers and coaches will be tweaking and squeezing every last drop of energy and quality out of their squads. Pre-season a gruelling time of year but the rewards for clubs and individuals can be great.

The coaching staff at each club will have sat down over the course of last season detailing exactly where they can improve the squad. This might mean a turnover of player or a possible change in training regime.

Sports science has gripped us all and football is no different. From sports drinks to GPS tracking, new techniques and of course good old fashioned lung bursting runs, players can expect a month from hell.

Managers will either be on the training ground, on the phone, or reading emails from agents. In fact, they will probably be doing all three 24/7! It’s an exhausting job and only the completely devoted will come up trumps in May 2016.

Players will have their own targets and deep down all of them will be telling themselves, “This is my season!”.

We all dream of being the hero on the ‘biggest day’ and at some point every club will go into their biggest game of the season. This will be the stage where all the hard work and dedication for a player could come to fruition.

Right now for fans, the excitement mainly lies around new signings for their club.

The SPFL welcome back Hearts and I have no doubt the Gorgie faithful will be eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.

For our clubs flying the flag in Europe – Celtic, Aberdeen, Inverness and St Johnstone – the season is about to start. We must hope that all can progress through their opening ties and have an extended run in the competitions.

Fans of Dundee Utd, Dundee, Motherwell, Kilmarnock, Ross County, Hamilton and Partick Thistle will be hoping for excitement, more ups than downs, and above all an improvement on last season.

Sounds easy enough but believe me it’s the hardest thing to do.

So I’d like to say, sit back, relax and enjoy, but in reality it will more likely be, stand, shout, moan and get up to high doh!!

Kevin Rutkiewicz was a former professional football player for Aberdeen, St.Johnstone, Dunfermline, Morton and East Fife – making 277 appearances in all competitions scoring 13 times in defence.

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