Wi-finito as Pep urges players to bond

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has blocked Internet access in certain areas of Manchester City's training ground in a bid to improve the togetherness of his squad.

The City manager has implemented a number of changes at the English football club to make the players fitter and happier, and improve their team spirit.

The players dine together before and after home matches and they are handed a cup of mixed nuts as a snack for the way home. Guardiola had earlier banned pizzas after matches.

And now, it has emerged that he has installed blocking devices that prevent the players from accessing the Internet on their phones in the changing rooms at the City Football Academy and other parts of the £200 million (S$348.91 million) complex.

Pablo Zabaleta, the City right-back, told Argentina's TyC Sports: "He (Guardiola) makes us have breakfast and eat lunch all together at the club, at the training centre.

"The dressing room is on the bottom floor, three floors down. There isn't even 3G connection there. We are incommunicado there."

Guardiola insisted that his players ate together during his previous managerial spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but this is the first time it has been disclosed that the Catalan does not want his players using the Internet while together.

The theory is that his players will spend more time talking to each other, rather than on their phones, which will aid communication among the squad and team unity.

Zabaleta is happy with the changes Guardiola has made since he succeeded Manuel Pellegrini in July.

"You always want and dream to be coached by the best coaches and now I have the possibility of working with one of the best," the Argentinian said.

Guardiola, who lost his first match since taking over away to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, received some more bad news on Tuesday.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is expected to be fit to face City after the international break. He returned to light training on Monday following a two-week groin injury layoff and is on schedule to be fit for City's Champions League game against the Spanish champions at the Nou Camp on Oct 19.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Wi-finito as Pep urges players to bond'. Print Edition | Subscribe