In 2013, Tottenham Hotspur hired a new manager with some unconventional training methods. He introduced NFL-style tackling, encouraged players who kicked the ball over the goal, danced the robot, and asked his players for “60% effort, 1000% of the time.”
It did not work out. Before the season even began, the players revolted, dubbing the new man “Wanker” before he was fired.
The thing about Ted Lasso, though, is that he’s not real.
Antonio Conte is very real, the winner of the 2017 Premier League title and 2018 FA Cup at Chelsea, plus four Serie A titles during his time in Italy with Juventus and Inter Milan. His similarity to the manager of fictional AFC Richmond: Conte has brought some quirks with him to North London.
According to The Athletic, Conte has banned ketchup and mayonnaise as part of an effort to get Tottenham players in better shape, which also presumably means no Big Macs, unless McDonald’s can provide some kind of revelation about its special sauce. Actually, Big Macs are definitely out, because Conte also has taken sandwiches off the menu, ordered cutbacks on fruit juice, and come out against excessive oil and butter in cooking.
This isn’t new for Conte, who also oversaw a culinary crackdown at Chelsea. It’s also not unique to Conte, as fellow Italian manager Paolo di Canio was noted at Sunderland for his bans on ketchup, mayo, coffee, and ice in Coke.
It’s also wildly stupid. Ketchup is not adversely affecting any world-class athlete’s fitness. While banning sauces sends a clear message about the importance of fitness, and provides a new manager with an excuse for not getting immediate results — these players are out of shape! — it also establishes that the man in charge is more interested in wielding power than he is in dealing with the players’ individual issues to solve team-wide problems.
Maybe that’s the reason that even though Conte has enjoyed success at multiple clubs, with 316 wins in 538 games, he’s also never lasted more than three years in any of his managerial jobs.
Eventually, Conte should find out what a perfect match he is for the Chicago Fire, in a town that famously hates ketchup. Maybe sooner rather than later, because It won’t be long before the players are giving Conte the same nickname that once was fictionally applied to Ted Lasso. And they’ll be right: anyone who tries to ban pizza is, indeed, a wanker.