Mario Baronelli, Alex Ferguson’s famously headstrong chewing gum-preparer has quit Manchester United after a disagreement over mastication strategy. Baronelli, rarely seen away from Ferguson’s side, was responsible for softening up the manager’s prodigious intake of Freedent Professional and on matchdays, Orbit Extra. The job entailed supplying and pre-chewing Ferguson’s gum to the consistency needed for maximum touchline concentration.
Sports psychologists have run science based tests that show that the initial “tough bit” of the chew can involve heightened levels of distraction, hence the need for expert help for top flight managers. The "gum boy's" skill lies in chewing the gum to optimum flavour and consistency, and strategically deft insertion, optimally when the ball is out of play. Too little chewing and the manager gets a tough ride. Too much and the gum is tasteless and flaccid. Either mistake can lead to devastating mistakes in the penalty box.
When photographers were invited to the club’s training ground on Wednesday they were surprised to see Ferguson take a piece of gum out of his mouth and attempt to stuff it back in Baronelli’s. Baronelli took it out of his mouth, held it up in the air for scrutiny and then, in a surprise move, attempted to stick it on Ferguson’s spectacles. A scuffle broke out, the pair had to be separated and £25,000 a week Baronelli , originally from Brindisi, was seen driving away at speed in his candy-striped Audi Q7. It’s understood that Wayne Rooney has agreed to chew-in for Baronelli while he’s on the injury bench, subject to a satisfactory saliva and dental hygiene test.
David Beckham, no stranger to Ferguson’s bridgework, told Sky Sports “As a manager he has the foulest mouth, yet the sweetest breath. It’s an attractive maxillo-facial paradox that remains imperilled until Signor Baronelli’s footwear can be swiftly replenished.”