Sunday 18 March 2018

Guardiola switches off City Wi-Fi to get squad to talk

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola's attempts to foster team spirit at Manchester City have extended to switching off the Wi-Fi in parts of the club's training base, it has emerged.

Pablo Zabaleta has revealed that Guardiola is so eager for his players to talk to each other that he has blocked the internet in some areas of the club's City Football Academy to encourage them to spend less time on their mobile phones.

Guardiola has made sure players cannot access Wi-Fi or 3G in the first-team dressing room on the bottom floor of the academy. He has also insisted that the squad have breakfast and lunch together and has barred players from using their mobiles at those times.

"He makes us have breakfast and eat lunch all together, at the training centre," defender Zabaleta told the Argentine TV channel, TyC Sports. "The dressing room is on the bottom floor, three floors down. There isn't even 3G connection there. We are incommunicado there."

The internet ban is just one of a raft of changes Guardiola has introduced since replacing Manuel Pellegrini as manager this summer. As well as breakfast and lunches together, Kevin De Bruyne revealed that Guardiola - who tasted defeat for the first time in 12 matches with City when the Premier League leaders lost 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday - sometimes asks them to have evening meals together.

In another attempt to promote team bonding, Guardiola has insisted all his squad attend mandatory meals after matches at the Etihad Stadium, a move he also feels gets players to reflect on the game in a way they might not alone at home.

He has scrapped the policy of staying overnight at the academy the night before matches at the Etihad by allowing players to stay at their homes, a measure that he introduced at Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the belief that it helps to reduce any pre-match nerves. Guardiola has also introduced training sessions on the morning of afternoon or evening home games.

Players who are ruled overweight are banned from training, as midfielder Samir Nasri, now on loan at Sevilla, found out in the summer. Guardiola has also made clear that he will not tolerate anyone associated with players talking out of turn about the club.

Yaya Toure has been told he will not play for City again unless his agent, Dimitri Seluk, apologises for his outspoken criticism of Guardiola, whom he accused of "humiliating" the Ivory Coast midfielder by omitting him from City's Champions League squad.

Players are asked to eat an assortment of mixed nuts, including almonds and hazelnuts, from a paper cup after games. Heavy foods or junk foods, such as pizza, are prohibited in addition to fizzy drinks and certain juices.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is believed to be winning his race to be fit for Barcelona's Champions League Group C tie against City at the Nou Camp on October 19. The Argentina forward was ruled out for three weeks last month with a groin strain but his recovery is reported to be progressing well. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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