Jose Mourinho gave his first press conference as Chelsea’s new manager yesterday and his comments suggested the season ahead is going to be one based on Premier League mind games, just as much as superb football and brilliant tactics.
Mourinho managed to get shots in at all of his main rivals in a veiled manner, which means the seeds of doubt have already been planted and the Portuguese coach simply needs to sit back and wait for the chaos to grow.
However, mind games in Premier League football are nothing new so it leads to the question of who can win the battle next season.
The Arsenal boss always rises to the challenge when other managers challenge him on a mental level.
He spent years trading blows like this with Sir Alex Ferguson before the Scot retired so it’s nothing new to him. Wenger knows how and when to respond and other than that press conference last season, he seems to always have a firm grasp over his emotions.
Mourinho seems to love a scrap of any kind. He’ll always stick up for his players and Chelsea as a football club, never afraid to pile the pressure onto his main rivals.
Mourinho will never resist an opportunity to use the media to his advantage and he has to be the favourite when it comes to the battle of the mind games next season because he’s coming back into the Premier League, sharper in a mental capacity than when he left.
Rodgers is a manager who will always stick up for his players but don’t expect him to be making big, bold claims in the press next season.
He’s made it abundantly clear that he’s focused on his Liverpool project and others can say what they like about what he’s trying to do because it’s not relevant. Liverpool are transforming both on and off the field and that’s all Rodgers seems to care about.
When Pellegrini is confirmed as the new Manchester City boss, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the mind games in English football.
He’s a very experienced manager so nothing will be new to him but the change in culture and context is something which will take him time to adjust to and other managers will poke and prod him through the media to try and get an angry response.
Ironically, he’ll probably handle it all better during his first role in England than the man he’s replacing Roberto Mancini.
Moyes follows the master of mind games in Sir Alex Ferguson and he’ll always be very vocal against something he believes in or has a problem with.
Don’t expect him to start too many mind games but similarly to Ferguson, he’s a passionate Scottish coach who will react when he’s provoked.
There have been various incidents throughout the years where Moyes has reacted angrily, getting involved in verbal confrontations on the touchline, allowing his emotions to carry over into post match interviews and press conferences.
Who do you think will win the battle of mind games?