An excuse to fail: Are Mourinho's mind-games working against him?

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has regularly said Chelsea are underdogs in both Europe and domestically, but are they suffering as a result?

For some time now, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been telling people that Chelsea are not genuine title contenders.

Whether that is through straight-talking or via befuddling analogies about big horses and little horses, the Portuguese has been clear in his belief that the Blues are not yet ready to be crowned the best of the best.

Of course, that is not entirely true; because what Mourinho says to the press and what he says to his players are probably two different things. He will be explaining any sound-bites fed to the media, interpreting them one way to those who matter to him and leaving others to interpret them as they wish.

But when the Chelsea boss used the same tactics in the build-up to the Champions League quarter-final match against Paris Saint-Germain I wondered if it was a mind-game too far.

Saying Manchester City are favourites for the league because they have games-in-hand is one thing, but saying his French opponents were in the box-seat in their European tie was wrong, even if it ultimately proved prophetic.

Chelsea may not have a top striker, but they have plenty of players who would grace most clubs in Europe – the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Petr Cech to name just three.

And yet all the time Mourinho says they are not the favourites to win either a match or a trophy, he is giving them an excuse to fail.

Of course he may well be telling them something different, asserting his true belief behind the scenes. But it is now time for him to switch the play – not on the pitch but in the pressroom. It is time to say his side is good enough to win, and if they do, they could still end the campaign with a trophy or two.

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