Does Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal have the answer to Raheem Sterling's tiredness problem? According to The Times, United's players are taking afternoon siestas at training, inside oxygen pods.
The innovation has been introduced in a bid to keep the players fresh as they adapt to the new manager's strict new training regime.
"With double training a regular feature since Van Gaal's arrival at Old Trafford in July, players can now sleep in oxygenated chambers at lunchtime after a morning session and before the afternoon run-out to help to enhance performance levels and improve their quality of rest," explains the paper.
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It says a number of pods, often used by injured players, have been made available for players in the final stages of recovery and for those who are simply "feeling fatigued or run-down".
The Times says it is an example of "Van Gaal's meticulous and obsessive overhaul of United's Carrington training base and the club's fitness, training and rehabilitation programmes".
Like Arsenal, Man United have suffered a mystifyingly high number of muscle injuries in recent seasons and Van Gaal has brought in a new fitness and conditioning coach and physiotherapist to try and fix the problem. He has also taken other unusual steps, such as planting more trees at Carrington to shield the players from the elements while they are training.
So, after all the innovations, how has Van Gaal fared in his first three months in charge at Old Trafford. The Daily Telegraph notes that the Dutchman said he should not be judged until he had been at United for three months and now his time is up.
Changing the formation did not pay off, although injuries have not helped, while the big money signings are still settling in. "The positives outweigh the negatives, but the team is by no means back to its position of power under Sir Alex Ferguson," says the paper.
"United under Van Gaal may yet prove to be a case of the Emperor's New Clothes and the coming weeks are likely to give a much more accurate picture of the club's progress under the new manager."
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