It didn’t take long for Mourinho to start with his mind games against opposing managers, this time round it is David Moyes who is now on the receiving end of the Portuguese manager’s tactics of trying to destabilise a rival team through comments made in the media.
David Moyes has tried to play down the Wayne Rooney incident of last season, saying quite firmly in his unveiling press conference that “Wayne Rooney will not be sold by Manchester United”, then again whilst on the club’s pre-season tour he had to reiterate that stance with “unless I was speaking Double Dutch, I’ve already told you that”.
It may seem a slightly odd response from Moyes, a bit short with the press who are naturally inquisitive about England’s best player’s future – given Rooney has been rather quiet on the matter. The reason Moyes is becoming frustrated is down to Mourinho, and specifically how Mourinho interacts with the press.
Mourinho knows that United romped to the title last season, nobody claim close and in truth the title could easily have been awarded in February or March. He knows that although Ferguson has retired, the team has remained the same with the addition of Wilfred Zaha and United are being linked with a marquee signing this summer.
Mourinho has strengthened Chelsea but knows that the best way to harm your opponents is to destabilise them, either through stealing one of their players (when Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea it signalled the Gunners were no longer the team that challenged for titles, opening the door for Nasri, Fabregas and van Persie to leave) or through mind games (again with Arsenal, but most famously with Liverpool and Benitez).
This summer the option to destabilise Manchester United has presented itself in an unusual fashion – Ferguson has retired and Rooney’s future is being questioned.
I don’t think Mourinho actually wants Wayne Rooney – I have mentioned in other blogs that Mourinho wants players who will run through brick walls for him, not Rooneys who hand in transfer requests every time they want a new contract – but by saying a few compliments about Rooney has had the desired effect: Moyes is getting snappy with the press for always asking about a player who is not even on the club’s tour and the transfer speculation machine is going into overdrive, analysing everything Moyes says to try and find a Rooney transfer meaning behind it.
Take the most recent comments from Moyes, supposedly saying Rooney was back-up to van Persie. Moyes has just made an observant comment, that if anything were to happen to van Persie (which hopefully won’t, but he does have a bad injury record) then the team will be reliant on Rooney, not as a back-up but to find the goals that can power them onwards. Rooney will still start almost every game he can under Moyes, his understanding with van Persie last season was excellent, the comments were merely saying Rooney would have to shoulder more responsibility, not that he’d be a sub like others are trying to suggest.
It’s just mind games from Mourinho and it’s working a treat, he knows United would not sell to a Premier League rival – only Arsenal do that.
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