Jose Mourinho Declares Tottenham The Favorite Ahead Of League Cup Final


As Chelsea FC prepares to meet Tottenham on Sunday for the League Cup Final, the club has been struggling as of late. With Nemanja Matic out due to suspension and having dropped two points over the weekend, Jose Mourinho has declared Spurs the favorite to lift the trophy.

A quality that makes Mourinho one of the best managers of all-time, and one that separates him from most other managers, is his ability to play mind-games. Nothing he says in public should be taken at face value, and while other managers and players may know of his tactics, it is clear that he is able to get into other peoples’ heads.

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Last season, he famously declared Arsene Wenger “a specialist in failure” despite the fact that his Arsenal side was top of the league at that point. Wenger, and many of the naysayers, tried to dismiss his comments but it resulted in a 6-0 massacre at Stamford Bridge in which the fans sang “Specialist in failure” and a fall from first place in the standings to fourth. Arsenal’s recent Champions League laugher against Monaco only reinforces Mourinho’s comments about the Frenchman. Of course, it should also be worth mentioning that Wenger has never beaten Mourinho in twelve attempts.

Another famous example from last season was before the infamous slip-gate game against Liverpool. At the time, the Reds were five points clear of first place and came off an enormous morale-boosting win against Manchester City, a game which many believed sealed the title for Liverpool. Many will remember Gerrard’s now-infamous comment at the end of that game in which he told his players “This does not f**king slip!” But many seem to forget Jose’s pre-match comments.

He stated “We are going to be the clowns. They want us to be the clowns in the circus. The circus is here. Liverpool are to be champions.” He seemed to be repeating what everyone else was thinking at the time, and it lulled Brendan Rodgers’ side into a false sense of security while the Chelsea players knew exactly what he was doing. Once the match started, Liverpool became complacent and Chelsea pounced on the counter-attacks, and the rest is history.

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This time, before Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final against Tottenham, he’s at it again. After Chelsea dropped two points against Burnley and Matic’s suspension for the Final was upheld, some pundits and Chelsea nay-sayers have tried to convince themselves and others that come Sunday, Spurs are the current favorites to lift the trophy. Mourinho seems to have given that opinion some credence by saying “They [Tottenham] have such a good squad, almost replicas with two players for every position. What’s the difference between Erik Lamela and Andros Townsend? Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen? Paulinho and Ryan Mason?” In regards to the Matic suspension, he stated that “It will be an advantage [that Matic is suspended]. In football an advantage is an advantage.”

Anyone who knows Mourinho should recognize his true intentions behind these comments. He would not resign his squad to defeat before a match, especially one where silverware is on the line. His line regarding two players for every position is a back-handed compliment, knowing full well that Spurs have a Europa League game against Fiorentina only three days prior and that Pochettino will have to heavily rotate his squad. By calling Matic’s suspension an advantage, it is both a jab at the FA’s decision and a way of trying to convince the Tottenham players that his gameplan is severely altered.

Of course, there is some truth to Mourinho’s statements. With Matic out and John Obi Mikel, his natural replacement, injured, it is possible that he will have to look towards starting someone like Nathan Ake or Ruben Loftus-Cheek (I suppose it’s too late to recall Marco Van Ginkel from loan?) Tottenham have also been one of the great stories this season, with Harry Kane having the season of his life and Christian Eriksen influencing the midfield the way Eden Hazard usually does. Hugo Lloris is a keeper that not enough people bring up, but he has been one of the best goalies of the Premier League so far this season.

And of course, there was the meeting at the beginning of the calendar year in which Tottenham ran out to a 5-3 win – a game in which Matic did play, but was uncharacteristically woeful. This is a different Spurs side than what we are used to seeing. Pochettino has got his players believing in each other, and he is using them properly. Of course, they had Eriksen, Kane, and Lamela under AVB and Tim Sherwood, but they were either horribly misused or hardly played. Lamela only played in 9 Premier League games last season, this despite the fact that they spent 30 million pounds on him.

But the Chelsea players should know full well why Mourinho is downplaying his side’s chances. Not just in football, but in any team sport, there is the concept of the trap game. This is when a team does not fully prepare for a match, believing full well that they are going to win. It is how a team like Leicester City can beat Manchester United or how Bradford City can win at the Bridge. By playing up the opposition, and making light of Chelsea’s recent struggles, he will have Pochettino’s men believing that they have a clear advantage.

It is hard for a team like Chelsea to sneak up on opposition, since they have been near the top of English football for so long, but that is exactly what Mourinho wants his squad to do come Sunday.

All quotes from this article are obtained from ESPN FC.

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