Monday, September 5, 2011

Fergie mind games brings Chelsea back into the fold

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is notoriously picky about what he says to the media. He is very rarely guilty of a loose slip of the tongue.

What he does says is usually designed to influence the way his team or opposition sides are portrayed in the media, as well his now infamous mind-games designed to out psyche opponents a la Keegan in 1997.

His latest media stirring concerns Chelsea and their new manager Andre Villas-Boas, unofficially and somewhat reluctantly labelled as the next Mourinho.

“They [Chelsea] have tremendous experience with the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, John Terry – there aren't any young kids in that team.

But they don't have 36- or 37-year-olds like Ryan Giggs. Lampard and Drogba are 33, Anelka is 32 – not dissimilar to [Michael] Carrick and Rio Ferdinand, and we wouldn't be saying they are dead and buried, would we? So why should they be? They'll still be a big threat and we expect them to challenge.

Villas-Boas is a young man and it's a big step coming into the Premier League from the Portuguese championship, but given time and support anything is possible."

At a stroke Ferguson has swing the attention away from his young players – so impressive in the opening live football of the season – while also putting the pressure and microscope on the ages of both Villas-Boas and his senior players.

I could be accused of over-analysing what the Scot says but the 67-year-old knows how the media works, how it takes his quotes and what they will pick out when he speaks at a press conference.

He wants as much space for his young charges to flourish in as possible; he also wants to put pressure on his rivals in the Premier League betting. By not talking about city – who are desperate for attention after years in the wilderness – he is also winding them up.

Talking can only do so much though and when the action returns after the international break we will see whether the actions of his opponents can speak louder than Fergie’s words.

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