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How the New Head Chef at Manchester United is Proving Cristiano Ronaldo Right

How the New Head Chef at Manchester United is Proving Cristiano Ronaldo Right

Manchester United’s facilities have been subject to quite a lot of criticism in recent years, which included Cristiano Ronaldo’s rant from last year where he even discreetly hit out at the head chef that prepares their meals at the Carrington training ground.

That was last year in his infamous interview with Piers Morgan, where the Portuguese forward took aim at everything he felt to be wrong about the club. That included a dig at the Glazer Family’s poor work as owners, Erik ten Hag’s poor management skills and the rotting facilities in the club.

What did Ronaldo say about the old chef?

The Portuguese forward voiced his shock at seeing that nothing had changed around the Carrington training facilities from his first stint with the Red Devils. He had initially left United in 2009 to join Real Madrid before re-joining them in 2021.

In the interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo said: “Nothing changed since I left. The pool, the jacuzzi, even the gym, even some technology. Even the chefs who I appreciate, lovely people. I thought I would see new technology, infrastructure. I saw things I saw when I was 20.”

For many, this felt to be a damning indictment of how the Red Devils were stuck in time since Ronaldo had left in 2009. The club’s management has already been heavily criticized for failing to modernize or upgrade the Old Trafford stadium, which is often subject to leaking roofs during the monsoon season, at a time when new world class facilities are being created by the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

But the criticism about the chefs being the same over Ronaldo’s 12-year absence surprised quite a lot of fans. Normally, a major club tends to change their chefs paying in mind the changing nutritional needs for players and dietary changes as well. Well, it appears that Ten Hag & co took Cristiano’s dig on their chefs seriously and the Red Devils ended up hiring a new chef immediately after his departure.

Who is the Head Chef at Manchester United Now?

After a lengthy search process, United hired former England national team head chef Omar Meziane just before the turn of 2022. Meziane had worked with England from 2017-2022, and was part of Gareth Southgate’s backroom staff for both the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup editions.

As part of the routine, he was tasked to create specific diets and meals for the players to keep them in optimum shape during key tournaments.

The Red Devils confirmed that Meziane was appointed to ‘prepare, produce and deliver a high-quality consistent catering offer,’ at the Carrington training facility for the first-team players – but also be tasked to work for meals before and after both home as well as away games.

He was paired up with United’s nutritionists Tom Whitehead and Mark Elison to set up specific menus for individual players at work as well as create diets for them to follow at home. Meziane comes from a catering background, with his father having run a Moroccan restaurant. He also worked for the England Cricket team as well as having a background of doing individual work, including for Chelsea footballers.

Meziane explained details of his work in an interview with Goal, as he said: “I like to think that with any of the players I have spoken to that I have made some impact. No matter how tiny it may be. I just like to show them that food is more than chicken, broccoli and quinoa and can be exciting and delicious. It is about cooking for performance and recovery. It’s also about the right foods at the right time.

“I’m very much driven by my roots, those North African flavours and textures since working in the sport. We all know what’s good for us. It’s about having a good, balanced diet. That means good quality fish, turkey and chicken. We mix that with the right amount of carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables. Playing two games a week, you’ve got to ensure those players have to ensure that they are fuelling correctly.”

How Meziane has won over the United players

Meziane has been working for the Red Devils for just over seven months now, but it seems like he has taken really well with all the players. As per the Manchester Evening News, he is extremely popular among the players due to the notable improvement in the overall quality of their food since his arrival from the England FA.

The ex-England chef is one of the two chefs that is employed for the first team and the only chef that regularly travels to every single game with Erik ten Hag’s squad, while the other chef is rotated.  Meziane has made it a duty to always travel to any away city a day ahead of the squad so that he has enough preparation time to create the highest standard of food for the players.

What has worked with the new chef is his ability to adapt to the players’ needs. He has brought a lot more variety to the food items presented to the United stars as compared to what was given to them by the previous chefs. Moreover, Meziane often sets up a live-cooking station where players are encouraged to sample certain food items that they might not have had otherwise.

Meziane has introduced different cuisines to the United canteen at the Carrington training facility and when the squad goes abroad for matches, they cuisines from those countries are often set up to their meals so that the players – who are often restricted to the hotel – don’t feel missed out. The chef works to decide the menus for players a day before games weeks in advance and these menus are normally high in carbohydrates and protein.

It appears that Cristiano Ronaldo was at least right in his assessment of a major change desperately being needed, at least in terms of the chefs. The new chef seems to have proven himself as a breath of fresh air which helps improve the overall move in the dressing room and ensures that the players really love the food they’re eating at work and home.