Former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos has claimed that his players were "fat" and "sedentary" during his spell in charge at White Hart Lane, and compared their lunchtime habits to "a wedding buffet", as he watched their waistbands expand, Juande at a time.
Now in charge of Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who play Tottenham on February 27, the Spaniard told the Guardian of his shock when he first saw the eating habits of his new charges. It took twice-a-day training sessions and weigh-ins to improve the nutritional situation.
"Who got married?" Juande Ramos looks back on his first days as Tottenham Hotspur manager and cannot help but smile. When he and his staff walked into the dining room at Spurs' training ground, they could hardly believe it.
"Incredible," he says, shaking his head. "It was like a wedding buffet. Cakes, pastries, sauces – and that was what they ate regularly." The Spaniard leans forward and says softly, if a little mischievously: "Honestly, and I say this with no bitterness at all, there were players who were … well, fat." Then he laughs and adds: "They were sedentary."
"A sportsman's physical condition has to be impeccable: your body is your living. A runner is like this," Ramos continues, raising a skinny little finger.
"You can't live like the man on the street who's had dessert or cake. If you eat a cake, you're putting in diesel; a sportsman's got to run off super. A sportsman who makes, say, €6m and drinks and smokes and eats. It makes no sense at all."
Ramos also viewed his players dining in a nearby McDonald's
"A lad who's 22, 23 and has cash might think: 'This guy's not telling me what to eat.' We trained not far from a McDonald's and we'd see them in there eating hamburgers, drinking Coke but you explain and they understand. 'This is your ideal weight, the percentage of body fat.' I can't go to their houses to watch their eating but we could train morning and afternoon and weigh them. If you're not in shape, you don't play and with work the team started improving."
Ramos' reign in North London is remembered by many Tottenham fans with a sort of bemused disappointment. Much hilarity ensued in December when it was announced that Ramos would be making a return to White Hart Lane, just after Andre Villas-Boas had been sacked. Fans need not have worried - Ramos' Dnipro side had been drawn to play at the Lane on February 26.
The dismissive attitude is slightly unfair to Ramos, who was in charge when Spurs gained their most recent honour - a League Cup win in 2008, having defeated Arsenal in the semi-final. He also steadied the ship in the league after the dying days of the Jol era had seen an exciting side take a worrying slide down the table.
However, his good work was quickly undone, and forgotten. The start to the 2008-9 season was the worst in the club's history, with only two points gained from the first eight matches. He was sent packing by the club by October of that year and has not been back since.
At least he can look forward to a decent spread before and after the game.