According to a Rebound source close to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch has ordered his team’s head coach Maurizio Sarri to undergo an “intensive fortnight of learning” under the tutelage of handshake etiquette expert Mark Hughes.
“Roman’s not happy about the incident at the Etihad with Pep,” claims our source. “He’s sent Big Mo a Viber telling him to get himself down to Yale College Wrexham for Sparky’s new course, Vigorous But Respectful Handshaking For Premier League Managers 101. Roman reckons this will solve all the team’s problems at the drop of a hat, as it’s clearly the most pressing issue in relation to Sarri’s management at the moment.”
Although a former Man City, Southampton and Stoke manager, Hughes is now better known for his insightful seminars, books and tours focused mainly on the correct way to “show respect to fellow professionals during the heat of combat regardless of your level of hatred for them or how much they’ve humiliated you previously.”
“It’s vital that you find your centre – or ‘hand-chi‘ as I call it – and remain focused on showing precisely the right amount of respect after a match or an event,” Hughes told us on Tuesday morning.
“This applies even if your team has been battered physically, emotionally and spiritually by the opposition, and even if you’ve been shouting abuse at everyone within 100 metres for the past two hours.
“A well-executed handshake can eradicate the excesses of a 90 minute contest. It shouldn’t matter if you’ve just called your opponent a ‘fat old c*nt’ or if you spat in his face during the half-time break – the important thing is that you show how sporting you are by grasping his hand firmly once that final whistle goes.
“The nature of the handshake is also key. No floppy wrists, moist palms or dangling fingers, please. Plenty of eye contact and then basically just pour every watt of power you have into gripping the other b*stard’s hand. If it helps, imagine you’re squeezing the throat of a tall, aging Gallic manager who has previously criticised your team’s physical style of play.
“If you’re feeling confident, or have perhaps heard the tell-tale crack of a knuckle, look deep into your adversary’s eyes and say, ‘Good game mate but the ref was sh*te and the pitch was rubbish, we were absolutely robbed, see you next time.’ Remember that if you’re in any way dissatisfied at the standard of clasp, the post-match press conference is an ideal time to refer to your opponent’s ‘lack of class’. By the way did I mention that if Southampton had kept faith with my hand-shaking and not cruelly sacked me, I’m sure the club would now be in the Champions League places.
“Anyway, listen, I’m digressing. As for this chap Sarri, we really need to ensure what happened in Manchester last weekend doesn’t reoccur. I’ve been on the receiving end of a snub myself – but I don’t go on about it – so I know how it feels. I think Maurizio can learn a lot from my course, and I’m sure it’ll make him not just a better manager, but also a better man.”
The Rebound is Paddy Power’s weekly breaking news story that may not actually have happened or be real in any way.