First she banned peanut butter, then former Team Canada coach Carolina Morace led Canada into a disastrous 2011 World Cup
Carolina Morace is introduced as Canada's women's soccer team head coach at the presser at BMO Field.
Even "prison" has peanut butter.
Unless you're in Italy, it seems, where Canada's previous World Cup preparation went wrong.
Hidden away in an Italian encampment four years ago, Canada's preparation for the 2011 Women's World Cup looked much different than it does today.
There wasn't barbed wire or armed guards. Rather, there was a troop of Italian top brass under then head coach Carolina Morace.
"A number of players said it felt like prison," former Canadian international Kara Lang recalled to the Toronto Sun this week in the lead up to this month's Women's World Cup.
But, again, even prison has some comfort foods.
"She tried to fix our diets and peanut butter went," said Clare Rustad, who attended at least one national team camp under Morace.
"Where (the peanut butter) used to be, it no longer was one day."
Four years later, it's unclear whether current Team Canada bench boss John Herdman permits peanut butter on the premisses of his training camps, but he undoubtedly hasn't kept Canada's current crop of women -- as one well-placed source put it -- "holed up in Italy."
“The girls were living under an Italian aggressive regime," an informed source added.
And that Italian regime did everything it could four years ago to take "the Canadian" out of a group of girls who would, inevitably, go on to finish dead last in Germany.
"The group was so proud to be Canadian and (Morace) said that was all wrong," Lang told the Sun. "She didn't believe the Canadian way was the right way.
"She tried to change the style completely. We did need to learn a more technical style of play. But I think she asked players to turn their back on what makes us Canadian -- the fight that puts fear in other teams."
Herdman, though, has followed a completely different blueprint in picking up the pieces leftover from the Italian job.
While Morace secluded Team Canada in Europe for multiple training camps, Herdman has, for the most part, kept the team on home soil.
While Morace struggled to connect with the team, Herdman is regarded as an expert communicator, a motivator and a rallier.
"When you're telling these women the way they do it is wrong," Lang said of Morace, "you're not going to get the best reaction."
"It was hard because the team wanted to buy in. We all got on board, but it didn't work."
It didn't come close to working, actually. Following a 2-1 opening game loss to Germany, Les Rouges was trounced 4-0 by France.
They fell 1-0 to Nigeria a few days later to finish with the worst goal difference at the 2011 tournament.
"(Morace) didn't really get it," Rustad explained. "She tried to import a system from Europe that worked great there but she didn't get the culture in Canada.
"There is a soccer culture in Canada. A lot of girls try and get scholarships. You're mixing in education with playing.
"You can't just import one system. Herdman understands that. He understands how to connect with players and how that part was totally destroyed previously."
To repair it, Herdman put an emphasis on Team Canada, well, being Canadian.
The Englishman even had Canada's pool of players study O Canada, the national anthem, to unlock what it means to play for this country.
"He made it a big exercise to get them to reconnect with why they play," Rustad said.
For the badge. For their nation. For themselves.
"Herdman has come in and tried to complement that," Lang said. "Developing skills but not losing that Canadian grit."
He has been honest the build up to Saturday's World Cup opener against China in Edmonton. Unlike Morace, there's nothing to hide.
Whereas Canada played closed-door friendlies against mediocre sides four years ago under its former Italian coach, Herdman took a different approach, leading Canada through a Who's Who of exhibition opponents.
"Player for player, we may not be the best team in the world," Herdman told TSN. "But we will be the most connected."
Maybe the most connected to its fans, too.
For Herdman, it seems this is as much about national pride as it is a game.
At every press conference, every media event, the 39-year-old head coach talks about his 23 players being great Canadians first and foremost. He understands Canadian culture.
"(Morace) didn't understand the culture and she tried to force her own culture on the team," Lang said.
The results weren't mixed. They were downright catastrophic back then.
And the amount of peanut butter consumed wouldn't have made a difference.
Instead, Herdman's big picture approach -- life balance, national pride, tactical preparedness -- offers this Team Canada a much better shot at success.
This after Morace's micro-managing, "prison" camp approach turned into a complete disaster four years ago.
HERDMAN TAKES THE HARD ROAD
Believe it or not, Canada wasn't that good in 2012.
Yeah, sure. It won the bronze medal at the London Olympics. But the Canadians were played off the pitch -- for 89 minutes -- in that third-place match against France.
Rather than hide from that fact, however, Canadian head coach John Herdman received the message.
So, in stark contrast to his predecessor, he lined up a long list of challenging friendlies ahead of this month's World Cup.
While under Carolina Morace Canada played fringe World Cup teams in preparation for the 2011 tournament, under Herdman, Leg Rouges has tested itself against a steady host of World Cup participants in the build up to Saturday's opening match.
"Herdman has them playing against the top teams in the world," former Canadian national team star Kara Lang said. "To his credit, they actually ended up winning against some top teams in the lead up."
The 39-year-old Englishman said as much in a editorial this week.
"It was a good learning experience," he wrote in the Globe. "Players needed to experience getting beaten at home and to know that they’re not dead and that they can still get up the next day.
"That’s the sort of thing that will condition them to play in the environment that they’re going to have to play and perform in at the World Cup."