Alex Ferguson once, rather dangerously, suggested that:
“When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.”
Whilst it seems like a politically incorrect sentiment he was talking about football schemers rather than Italians in general (we hope). But the notion describes Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho perfectly. There is almost no point listening to what he has to say about the health of his squad a week before a game any more. Because he’s the ultimate tactician and will say whatever needs to be said to give him and Chelsea any advantage possible.
We have seen him do this so many times now that it has partially lost its effect. Earlier in the week The Telegraph reported that:
Mourinho has ruled Costa and Remy out of the United game, meaning Drogba, 36, will be his only fit senior striker at Old Trafford.
But that stance has, of course, softened considerably as crunch time approaches. Mourinho told reporters on Friday that Chelsea’s star striker has a chance of playing.
“Everything has happened to him,” said Mourinho. “But he has a little chance of playing. We are trying.”
In truth we would be more surprised if Costa didn’t play against Manchester United this weekend. We’d even be slightly startled if he only made the bench. Because this is classic Mourinho. Keeping his cards close to his chest and presenting the Chelsea team as having vulnerability to give Manchester United a false sense of security.
But no one really takes what the Chelsea manager says as gospel any more do they?