Chips, ice, beanie hats, mushrooms, space travel: just some of the weird and wonderful things managers have banned in recent years.
News that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has banned overweight players from training sparked thoughts of other such examples, and some of them are downright bizarre.
So sit back, relax and enjoy this list of seventeen strange things that managers have banned:
Pep Guardiola bans pizza, sports cars
The Spaniard’s ban on excess timber at Man City goes hand-in-hand with his decision to ban his players from eating pizza.
As Barcelona manager, he banned them from turning up to training in flash motors. As Zlatan Ibrahimović said:
At Barca, players were banned from driving their sports cars to training. I thought this was ridiculous – it was no one’s business what car I drive – so in April, before a match with Almería, I drove my Ferrari Enzo to work. It caused a scene.
José Mourinho bans Pokemon GO
It seems Man Utd’s players have been swept up in the fervour of the latest craze, and their new manager has put his foot down.
A club source told the Daily Star:
José loves having a great relationship with his players and staff, and thinks it’s great for them to chill and relax away from training and games. He’s still finding his way around Old Trafford and treading carefully.
The only thing he has picked up on which he’s told the lads of is his concern about Pokemon. He says for 48 hours before a match he wants the guys to leave it alone and concentrate on the tactics he and his staff have been working on in the days before.
Gotta catch ’em all, José – red-handed.
Arsène Wenger bans Mars bars
Oft credited with ringing the changes in terms of fitness and conditioning in English football, the Frenchman forbade his players’ favourite snack.
We were travelling to Blackburn and the players were at the back of the bus chanting “we want our Mars bars!
Presumably Snickers was fine.
Neil Lennon bans beanie hats
After only a couple of days into the job at Bolton Wanderers, Lennon banned his charges from training in bobble hats on the following grounds:
I don’t want players training in hats because they don’t play football in hats.
Seems fair enough, really.
David Moyes bans chips
Rio Ferdinand lambasted Moyes for forbidding his Manchester United players from eating chips, but Moyes hit back in an interview with Four Four Two:
Yes, I did ban chips. It was because a couple of players were overweight and I didn’t think chips were good for their diet.
This also seems fair enough.
Giovanni Trapattoni bans mushrooms
For some reason, the then Republic of Ireland coach was horrified by his players’ mushroom consumption:
I gave them carte blanche when it came to their diets. I did not want to change their established habits. However, I saw the players eating mushrooms before a friendly, and I was stunned into silence for several seconds.
I then told them that mushrooms are banned on matchdays – both for breakfast and for dinner.
Perhaps he mistook them for the ‘magic’ variety.
Paolo Di Canio bans mobile phones, coffee, mayonnaise, ketchup, fizzy drinks and ice
You read that correctly – as Sunderland manager, Di Canio banned ice:
If you have ice with coke you can have indigestion. I know players who’ve had ice with their coke the night before a game and then couldn’t play.
That’s cold, Paolo. As for some of those other banned items, he said:
This is a complete revolution. We need to have lectures about why we can’t have everyday things like mayonnaise, ketchup and coke. They can cause chemical problems to the liver, to the stomach.
Even coffee can be a problem. You can have one when you get up, but not an hour before you go out training or playing. We give the players diet sheets to follow.
That seems more reasonable.
Jackie McNamara bans toast
As Dundee United manager, McNamara took the unusual step of barring toasted bread from his players’ breakfasts.
His chairman Stephen Thompson said:
Jackie is changing the players’ lifestyles and that’s something which appeals to me. So instead of toast for their breakfast, it’s now porridge and Weetabix.
His policy on untoasted bread went strangely undivulged.
Walter Mazzarri bans sex
Within 48 hours of a game, anyway. Napoli’s club doctor at the time had this to say to Italian newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno:
Avoiding sexual activity for two days before a game is fundamental to prevent muscular strains, contractions or inflammations. For us this is a rule.
Fabio Capello bans WAGS
The ‘no sex’ policy was not one that worked out for Capello when he banned players’ wives and girlfriends from visiting England’s training camp at the 2010 World Cup.
You might recall an excruciating 0-0 draw with Algeria and an eventual 4-1 hammering at the hands of Germany. So much for that idea, Fabio.
Raymond Domenech bans Scorpios
Another whose approach failed him dismally at the 2010 World Cup, Domenech’s penchant for astrology is said to have ended the France career of Robert Pires, born October 29th.
Domenech has since confirmed a strong interest in astrology, but denied letting it influence his player selection. He said:
As soon as I mentioned it people started thinking I wear a wizard’s hat on my head and gaze into crystal balls. Astrology has a value in finding out about people’s character. Not in predicting the future or anything like that, but in working out people’s profile.
Sir Alex Ferguson bans coloured boots
At least for youth team players, anyway. John O’Shea said:
They are told they have to stick to wearing black. Once in the reserve or first-team squad there are no restrictions, but if you are wearing flashy colours and don’t play too well you’re likely to get singled out.
It’s not known whether Sir Alex was fussy about boot colour when he was kicking one at David Beckham’s head.
Paul Le Guen bans Monster Munch
The Frenchman had a frosty relationship with Barry Ferguson while managing Rangers, eventually stripping him of his captaincy.
One of the areas they fell out over was the midfielder’s predilection for Monster Munch. As the player himself said:
Listen, I’m all for players looking after themselves and eating well. But no-one is going to tell me a packet of pickled onion now and again is going to take years off your career. It’s nonsense.
Roy Keane bans players from swapping shirts
At least he heavily implied it. As Sunderland boss in 2007, he said of the practice:
There are stories of players who have been promoted who are so busy trying to swap shirts. It’s understandable if a young player does it at the end of a game but it’s ridiculous when you get a senior player asking you during a game.
I had senior players coming up and asking me for my shirt during a game and I’m thinking, “Are you really focused on the game at all?” You see players now who say, “I’ve got 50 jerseys in my garage,” and I think, “Yeah, brilliant. But how many medals have you got?”
I certainly wouldn’t expect any of our players to be doing anything like that. You have to stay focused on the game and the challenge ahead. It’s part of the manager’s job to make sure that happens.
He stood down as Sunderland manager just a few months later.
Juande Ramos bans Jaffa Cakes
Of all the things managers have banned, this one surely takes the cake – or biscuit, depending how you see it.
The Spaniard was dismayed to see his players gobbling Jaffa Cakes at half-time and McDonald’s at full-time, so he swiftly did away with both.
He didn’t last long, but that shouldn’t necessarily be attributed to the junk food crackdown.
John Toshack bans gravy
As revealed by Robbie Savage in his autobiography:
Walking into the dining room at Toshack’s first get-together [as Wales manager], I stopped in surprise. There was nothing on the table. I looked at Giggsy, and he looked at me. We sat down at this empty table, and it was like being in school.
The waitress came in to take our order. Plain chicken, no sauce. Or spaghetti bolognese. Fried bananas or rice and broccoli. I wanted chicken with gravy, but we weren’t allowed.
I looked down at this plate of dry chicken, one veg, no gravy, fried bananas – and then I followed the habit of a lifetime and acted out of instinct. Up went the white tablecloth as I pushed back my chair and crawled under the table.
The lads were laughing but trying not to let Toshack see, and I started my hunt. “Where’s the veg?” I called out. “Maybe there are some sauces under here.” I could see Toshack’s face, and he wasn’t amused.
“Is there a problem?” he almost snarled. “My chicken’s dry, and there’s no gravy or sauces.” “Ah,” he said. “You should have used your initiative and put the bolognese sauce on your chicken.” I could not believe I was having this conversation.
Peter Reid bans space travel
In 1999, Sunderland’s Stefan Schwarz booked a place on one of the first commercial passenger flights, which had been scheduled for 2002.
However, he was told that this would invalidate his contract. John Fickling, then the club’s Chief Executive, said:
One of Schwarz’s advisers has, indeed, got one of the places on the commercial flights.
And we were worried that he may wish to take Stefan along with him. So we thought we’d better get things tied up now rather than at the time of the flight.
It was a reasonable request. We would normally get insurance cover for the player throughout the length of his contract. And like a lot of insurance policies there are certain exclusions, such as dangerous activities.
At the end of the day we are protecting the club, really. It was a little bit of a light-hearted moment during protracted negotiations.
But one day it could become be quite acceptable to put such clauses in various contracts.
Fast-forward to 2016 and we’re still waiting for those commercial passenger flights into space.
Fortunately for Schwarz, he hung up his boots years ago and may now do as he pleases.