'Powder puff' snood wearers get it in the neck from Ferguson

Sir Alex has banned neck-warmers, reports Harriet Walker

Alex Ferguson has gone for the jugular this week, banning his players from wearing warming neckwear, despite the recent plunge in temperature.

Scarf-like appendages are cosseting the chilly necks of dozens of Premiership players, including Manchester City's Carlos Tevez, whose snood bears his club's initials , and Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboué, left.

But what began life as a practical means of keeping out the cold is now prompting mockery and murmurs that the game is full of softies.

"You won't see a Man Utd player wearing a snood," Rio Ferdinand tweeted on Thursday, after Ferguson apparently instigated his ban and called snood wearers "cissies" and "powder puffs".

England cricketer Graeme Swann piled in from balmy Australia, writing smugly on his Twitter account: "I wonder what Norman Hunter and Chopper Harris would've made of [footballers wearing snoods]."

Hunter and Harris may have been too hard for neckwear but what they and Ferguson perhaps don't appreciate is that the men's snood is enjoying a renaissance, frequently draping the chests of pop stars such as JLS and teen sensation Justin Bieber.

For those who don't know, a snood in its fullest form is a scarf-cum-hood. It is a descendant of the Anglo-Saxon cowl, as modelled to great effect by the likes of Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart – so the footballers are in great company.

The archetypal snood wearer is perhaps Eighties pop singer Nik Kershaw, who teamed his with fingerless gloves and was, arguably, also not a "real man" when judged by Alex Ferguson's exacting standards. The snood is effectively the only piece of clothing to have waited almost 800 years to make its fashionable comeback.

But the article that Sir Alex Ferguson has banned is not a snood as such. For one thing, they are too small to unfurl into a true hood, and for another, they don't have the volume of a traditional snood; they are mere circlets of fabric designed to keep the wind off your Adam's apple.

Perhaps if Manchester United players began wearing the real deal, as modelled by Nik Kershaw and Justin Bieber, their manly manager and his name-calling captain might have relented and realised how flattering a length of draped wool can be as a means of framing a rosy-cheeked wintry face.

Keep warm the Eboué way

Snood

First worn by Italian 'keeper Gianluca Pagliuca a decade ago, now a winter necessity for any self-respecting fancy dan.

Gloves

Unless you're a keeper (or Maradona) the hands don't get much use, and so must be kept warm. Popularised by ex-Liverpool winger John Barnes, a trailblazer for on-pitch woollies in the 1980s.

Leggings

Some managers are tough enough to wear shorts on the touchline in any weather (see Owen Coyle), but it seems certain players suffer from cold knees. Again, blame Barnes.

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