Jose Mourinho is probably the best manager in the world right now when it comes to mind-games. It is an approach we’re so used to that we barely even recognise he does it anymore, but one thing you can be sure of; Jose never says anything accidentally.
Take last season, when Mourinho claimed from day one that Chelsea weren’t in the running for the title. Of course they were. There’s no way a team that includes the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic, Petr Cech, John Terry and co. could not be in the running.
But, of course, by withdrawing his team from the title hype early, Mourinho attempted to ensure he could basically do no wrong. Keep Chelsea in the top four and he looks like he’s achieved his objectives. Get them challenging for the title, and he looks like he’s surpassing them.
Mourinho is the same old master manipulator
And this season we’re seeing it again. After Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw with Southampton, Mourinho was incensed at an apparent injustice in the game. In the 55th-minute, with Chelsea struggling to find a breakthrough, referee Anthony Taylor failed to award a penalty for a trip by Southampton defender Matt Targett on Cesc Fabregas, and instead booked the Spanish midfielder for diving.
After the game, Mourinho likened the Fabregas booking to similar diving accusations aimed at Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic. He was quoted as saying: “That's a campaign, that's a clear campaign. People, pundits, commentators, coaches from other teams – they react with Chelsea in a way they don't react to other teams.”
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The 'campaign' question
His comments were a deliberate attempt to install a siege mentality in his players, an ‘us against the world’ attitude that would, he hoped, inspire his players to work that bit harder.
For, if the entire football world really did have a ‘campaign’ against Chelsea, they’d obviously have to work harder to succeed, wouldn't they?
Everything Jose Mourinho says has a purpose, and this ‘campaign against us’ talk is no different.