Kevin Ball gets to the sauce of Sunderland troubles
Tomato sauce is back at the Academy of Light, and players are once more allowed to use their mobile phones.
Those were the headline-grabbing sanctions that Paolo Di Canio imposed on his first-team squad at Sunderland.
In truth, it was the failure to build relationships of respect with his players that led to the uprising last weekend that ended with his dismissal. However, the removal of the smaller elements of Di Canio’s regime by caretaker manager Kevin Ball seems symbolic.
“I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t aware that anything like that was banned,” Ball said. “In terms of condiments, that’s something that’s always available and if they choose to have them that’s OK. I’m not saying, ‘Haway lad, get yourself a bucketload of tomato sauce!’ They don’t tend to use it.
“You have to respect people and how they want to do things. It’s not right for me to sit there saying it’s wrong, it’s their choice. I’d respect Paolo Di Canio’s view from that point of view because that’s what he chose to do.
“In terms of going forward, is coffee banned? If anyone wants a coffee, whether it’s here or at home, they’re going to have it, aren’t they? If they want a cup of tea, who am I to stop them? They’re all going to be treated as individuals and as men.
“Phones are a fantastic tool but it could have an adverse effect on you if you get a call or text as you’re about to go out to train that could upset your mindset, so what Paolo Di Canio was doing was nothing that we hadn’t been doing already in terms of phones in certain areas.
“Of course they’re able to use their phones in the players’ lounge; there are certain places they can use them and certain they can’t. The players have got to focus on training and there’s nothing worse than getting a text or call just before training. There are places to use them in the training ground and they’ve agreed to that.”
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