Revealed: The drastic measures introduced by Pep Guardiola to improve team spirit at Man City
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 communicate with each other face-to-face that he has blocked the internet in some areas of the club’s City Football Academy (CFA) 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 CFA.
He has also insisted on the squad having 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 club, 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 City 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 away to 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 CFA the night before matches at the Etihad by allowing players to stay at home, a measure he introduced at Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the belief it helps to reduce pre-match nerves, and introduced training sessions on the morning of afternoon or evening home games.
Players who are categorised as overweight are banned from training, a rule midfielder Samir Nasri, now loan at Sevilla, fell foul of 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.
Guardiola has also been making changes to the medical set-up at City. As well as appointing the highly-regarded nutritionist, Silvia Tremoleda, who helped overhaul Lionel Messi’s diet at Barcelona, Guardiola has drafted in Dr Eduardo Mauri to help head up the club’s medical department with Dr Max Sala.