Mou. The Special One. The Only One. The Master of Mind Games. The Only Man Who Can Get Away With Selling The Two-time Chelsea Player of the Year to a League Opponent. Jose Mourinho.
Call him what you want, but all of those names ring true. The Master of Mind Games is back at it again.
Since the controversial transfer of Juan Mata, two-time Chelsea Player of the Year, to Manchester United, Mourinho has been the talk of the town. Did Mourinho purposely wait to complete the transfer of Juan Mata to Manchester United until after Chelsea played them for their second and final League game of the year? Did Mourinho wait until the right deal came along, and signed the transfer papers just so Juan Mata could be happy and get first-team minutes again?
At the time of the Juan Mata transfer, the only teams above Manchester United in the League table that they had remaining on the schedule were: Arsenal at the Emirates, which we now know ended in a 0-0 draw; Liverpool at Old Trafford; the Manchester derby at Old Trafford; and Everton at Goodison Park. At the time of the Mata transfer, Manchester United could steal a maximum of 12 points from those four teams. With each team having 16 Premier League games remaining at the time of the Juan Mata transfer, 12 points is not much when you consider that Chelsea still had League games against Manchester City (away), Everton (home), Tottenham (home), Arsenal (home), and Liverpool (away).
Maybe Mourinho played Mr. Nice Guy and signed Mata’s transfer papers regardless of when the deal occurs or which team submits the deal. Was it a complete coincidence that the Manchester United deal was the “right deal,” and conveniently took place after the second Chelsea-Manchester United meeting? Perhaps, but I feel that Mourinho is a very calculated manager, and every move he makes has a reasoning behind it. Based on the way he has managed his players in the past, I do not think that Mourinho would send away a very talented player, especially to a League opponent, just because “it would make him happy.”
All of this leads me to believe that: Jose Mourinho knows that Juan Mata affects the title race, without directly hurting Chelsea’s title hopes since they had already played both Premier League games against Manchester United. He risked Mata scoring against Chelsea, and potentially getting slammed by the media for selling him before their final League game against Manchester United. Mourinho knows that Mata is a top-class player, though he somehow did not fit in to his plans at Chelsea, and it’s all about minimizing risk. Mourinho knows that Mata cannot hurt them by sitting on Chelsea’s bench, so Mourinho waits until after the Manchester United game in hopes that it will stir up some of the managers of the title contenders and gain a psychological advantage over them. Mourinho’s mind games at its finest.
As entertaining as it was to hear Mourinho complaining about West Ham parking the bus a few weeks ago, it is bothersome how hypocritical Mourinho can be. In case you need a refresher, Mourinho said “it’s very difficult to play a football match where only one team wants to play. I cannot be too critical, because if I was in this position, I don’t know if I would do the same. But at the same time this is not Premier League. This is not the best league in the world. This is football from the 19th century. The only other thing I could bring was a Black and Decker tool to destroy the wall.” As Seth Myers has said many times during “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live: REALLY?! Really Jose Mourinho? If I recall correctly (trust me, I do), Mourinho did the same exact thing at Old Trafford earlier this season, in what was arguably the most boring soccer game I have ever watched. Remember Jose’s tenure at Inter when they squared off against Barcelona in the second leg of the 2010 Champions League semifinal? Go ahead and add “The Hypocritical One” to the list of names above.
So one may ask: why would Mourinho make an obviously hypocritical comment? Is this another one of his mind games? Was he upset because his team just attempted 39 shots on West Ham without finding the back of the net? Does Jose Mourinho suffer from short-term memory loss? I cannot give a definite answer to that last question, because I do not have access to Mourinho’s medical records. However, I feel that this comment was made out of frustration. For anyone that watched the game, it was clear that Chelsea deserved three points. They held a 39-1 shot advantage, took 13 corner kicks while conceding just three, and dominated possession 72-28. There was nothing to gain by making these comments, and all Mourinho accomplished was making himself look like a fool.
Mourinho’s latest mind game was downplaying the idea of Chelsea winning the league this season. After their 1-0 victory at the Etihad, Mourinho said “I’m not saying we’re not going to win. I’m saying we’re not candidates. We’re outsiders.” We all know Mourinho is lying. Eden Hazard is arguably the best player in the Premier League right now; Willian has found his role at Chelsea; and they have not lost a League game since December 17th. The Quotable One even went as far as calling Chelsea the “little horse.”
Is this all a ploy to get the media to keep the attention on him rather than the players? Is there a method to Mourinho’s madness? Absolutely. The Maestro of Mind Games said it himself: “Everything I do is mind games. Everything is mind games. The only thing that is not mind games is the results.” Though Chelsea’s chances of winning the title are not guaranteed, you can bet your bottom dollar that Mourinho will continue his mind games throughout the remainder of the season.