If you ever find yourself asking why we can’t have nice things, know that there’s a very good chance the answer is José Mourinho.
The Daily Star broke news over the weekend that Manchester United players have been told they’re not allowed to play Pokémon Go during pre-game preparations.
Mourinho, who seemingly only takes joy in life by denying it to others, noticed the hit mobile game was becoming popular among squad members and issued a blanket ban on it for 48 hours before a game.
The team is currently in China for the newly-expanded version of the International Champions Cup. They were scheduled to contest the first Manchester Derby outside the UK at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing, but it was canceled hours before kickoff due to poor pitch conditions.
A source within the club said that the ban on Pokémon Go was implemented to help the squad focus.
“José loves having a great relationship with his players and staff, and thinks it’s great for them to chill and relax away from training and games. He’s still finding his way around Old Trafford and treading carefully. The only thing he has picked up on which he’s told the lads of is his concern about Pokémon. He says for 48 hours before a match he wants the guys to leave it alone and concentrate on the tactics he and his staff have been working on in the days before.”
On the one hand, it’s not unusual for squad members to be restricted from even simple pleasures in the run-up to a game. Players are often given strict directions for diet and water consumption, held to curfews, and even prohibited from having sex. Managers implement these rules to ensure players are both in peak fitness and free of any distractions, which means a player’s life during pre-match prep can often resemble that of a monk.
On the other hand, this is exactly something a sourpuss like Mourinho would do. Mou is the office manager who peers over your shoulder in your cubicle to make sure you’re not playing Solitaire on company time. He’s the shift supervisor who tells you if you have time to lean, you have time to clean. He’s the boss who thinks holiday parties and team-building events at the bowling alley are a waste of time and money. He’s that guy who demands that a doctor’s note accompany every PTO request.
It’s also worth wondering how widespread the game is amongst the squad. You’d figure younger players like Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw would be all about it, but what about the older guys? Wayne Rooney? Bastian Schweinsteiger? Zlatan?! The mind races.
United’s next preseason game is this Saturday when they take on Galatasaray at the Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden. At press time it’s unclear whether or not the stadium is a gym.