Jose Mourinho has aimed a dig at Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger for playing mind games over the fitness of David Silva and Alexandre Lacazette respectively.
Wenger insisted ahead of Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Arsenal that Lacazette would miss out with a groin problem, only for the Frenchman to start the game and score in the second half.
And Guardiola, speaking after his side’s 2-1 win over West Ham United, was notably evasive about Silva’s fitness ahead of the Manchester derby this weekend.
When asked about the injury situation at Old Trafford following the win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, Mourinho was quick to criticise the pair for playing needless mind games ahead of playing Man United.
“When we have a problem, we have a problem,” he insisted.
“When players are injured, they are injured. I tell you the truth. The truth is Eric Bailly has no chance for the weekend, Phil Jones a chance, [Marouane] Fellaini a chance, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] a big chance and [Nemanja] Matic is injured but will play for sure. [Michael] Carrick, no chance.
“No stories of Lacazette or David Silva. All the truth. Our opponents have all these issues. They have a big issue but, in the end, everybody is ready to play. They have phenomenal organisations. We are a bit more humble.”
Guardiola and Wenger should know better than to play mind games with the master of this particular craft – a man who, for better or worse, sees dark, twisted conspiracies against him wherever he goes.
The Portuguese will never take what his rivals say on face value; anything could be a bluff, double bluff, or simply a smokescreen for something more significant. As the saying goes: you can’t bullshit a bullshitter, especially somebody whose managerial arsenal is built upon in large part the psychological wrangling of his opponents.
His press conference ahead of the meeting with Guardiola promises to be somewhat tasty.