Five managers who despise condiments: Conte, Capello, Ramos…
Antonio Conte is back in the Premier League with Tottenham and has already made headlines by banning ketchup and mayonnaise from the club’s training ground.
The idea is part of an overhaul to dietary habits aimed to get the Spurs squad fitter – and judging by the performances they’ve produced so far this season, improved fitness is certainly required.
Whether banning condiments will make a huge difference is debatable. In 2018, sports dietitian Rick Miller told CityAM: “Frankly, it’s one of the least problematic issues in a professional footballers’ diet… Allowing high-quality condiments can enhance the taste of blander foods and encourage healthier eating habits.”
But that will not deter Conte and neither did it put of several other managers who have a serious aversion to sauces, red, brown or otherwise.
We’ve rounded up five managers who really, truly despise having something to dip their chips in.
The Tottenham furore was not Conte’s first run-in with red sauce. He made the same ruling – as well as banning pizza and fizzy drinks – when arriving at Chelsea in 2016 and, well, it worked, didn’t it?
There might have been a bit more to it than the lack of ketchup, but Chelsea did go on to win the league in his first season at Stamford Bridge and the FA Cup in his second.
Eventually, though, the players appeared to tire of the Italian and his draconian culinary impositions and he left at the end of 2017-18.
We’ll have to wait and see how the Tottenham players react, but their former boss Tim Sherwood is not impressed, telling Premier League Daily that Conte’s sauceless mealtimes are “a load of nonsense.”
52-year-old Sherwood has won zero major trophies as a manager. 52-year-old Conte has won six major trophies as a manager, and you can’t say his methods don’t get the best out of players.
Paolo Di Canio
Di Canio, as with most things he does, took the whole training-ground-discipline-and-dietary-restrictions thing a step too far.
After keeping Sunderland up in 2013, he decided that changes needed to go further and, as quoted by The Telegraph, said: “I’ve said that from now if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in their bag, I’ll throw it in the North Sea. They’re banned.
“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.
“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. 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.”
He was sacked five days into the season.
But if we are looking for precedent at Spurs specifically, then Sherwood might just have a point.
In 2007, Ramos came in as Spurs boss and ketchup was off the menu, as was apple crumble and even salt and pepper. He did win a trophy, the 2008 League Cup, which remains Tottenham’s most recent, but he was not popular and six months after that cup win, he was gone.
After Tottenham made the worst start in their history, two points from their first eight games in 2008-09, Harry Redknapp came in to replace the Spaniard.
Reportedly, Redknapp came into the canteen on his first day with a bottle of Heinz’s finest in hand, whacked it down on the table and said: “I hear you’ve been hungry lads.”
Redknapp later said: “I have seen players who run around for 90 minutes and they eat steak and kidney pie, chips, peas, whatever, two-and-a-half hours before kick-off. Everyone is different. It is great that we have fitness people now. But if you can’t pass the ball straight …”
🚫 “Ramos banned ketchup & any sauce… he banned salt, too!”
😫 “We did run more but in the end you lose the players. We wanted ketchup!”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) February 21, 2020
Capello is perhaps the most notorious condiment hater of them all. When he came in as England boss, he quickly removed brown sauce, ketchup and butter from the menu, much to the disgust of many of his charges.
But Emile Heskey did defend him in 2020, telling the Mail: “I didn’t mind Capello’s style of management and a lot of the time it comes down to excuses. That’s my view. If you take butter away from someone and they let it eat them up then that’s their problem.
“It’s true. That should not be a hindrance to going out there and performing. That’s your problem and it’s just excuses to moan about butter, ketchup or chips.
“He was a disciplinarian, he was strict, and he was very strong in how he spoke. Sometimes that can rub people up the wrong way. But to complain about butter…”
The original is still the greatest.
Wenger was the man who first started English football’s culinary revolution… and of course it involved the sauces being lobbed through the winder.
In an interview with Dream Coach TV, Nigel Winterburn was asked whether Wenger banned ketchup and replied: “He banned everything. After training, we’d all eat upstairs and it was fish, all chicken, all quite plain.
“When we used to travel away we used to use the train quite a lot and you used to see the guy or the lady coming through with the trolley, all the cakes and everything, and he used to just stand up and shake his finger.”