Working in such an unpredictable profession as football, it seems that many players and managers choose to abandon all sense of rationality in a belief that their superstitious practices can actually influence the outcome of a game. Wayne Rooney, for example, only visits a barber with "magic powers" and Pepe Reina has so many quirky superstitions it's amazing he has the time to play football at all.
Another man guilty of this kind of behavior is Roberto Mancini. In an interview with the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel, City coach David Platt reveals the manager's odd reaction to spilled wine:
"If you spill wine, he has to stick his fingers in it and dab it behind his ears, like perfume. Apparently, that wards off the bad luck. So we're in his office after the Liverpool game and I knock over a glass. There's nothing in it, really, but a drop comes out and splashes on the table and he's over, from the other side of the room, finger in the wine, dab, dab. And not a word of explanation to anybody. I can see Kenny Dalglish and Steve Clarke looking at him as if he's mad."
This is actually a fairly common Italian superstition, but one that probably deserves a little explanation in a room full of perplexed British people. The title-chasing manager is also quite particular about the exchange of condiments at mealtimes:
Mancini has a thing about dining table salt pots, which must not be passed from hand to hand, but moved across the table, like a chess piece, released and only then picked up by the receiver.
And while David Platt is being careful not to spill wine or incorrectly pass salt shakers during dinner, he can rest assured that he's also obliged to pay for all the manager's meals until Manchester City lose:
David Platt, his assistant, will buy dinner before the Manchester United game because he picked up the tab prior to Liverpool and the manager will not wish to break a fortunate streak.
Using similar logic, Mancini has persuaded Gareth Barry to do all of his ironing and give him back rubs until the day Mario Balotelli breaks his 'doing stupid stuff' streak. Which will be never.
Presumably, the fact that City boss has decorated his office with pictures of himself is also a sign of superstition, rather than irrepressible vanity.