Mind games? More like fun and games
- Mon 26 Mar 2012, 9:25AM
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
Hunger Games on at the cinema, Mind Games on the title chase? Whatever the critics make of the former, the latter is all stuff and nonsense, reckons the Mail's Martin Samuel.
Top columnist Martin goes about debunking the whole whole notion of football mind games in the wake of recent comments and events, thus gaining a psychological edge over his rivals.
Just kidding. But while everyone else analyses the quotes from Roberto and Sir Alex, he doesn't believe that what is said and construed has any meaningful effect on events.
He presents a powerful ally in Franz Beckenbauer, who argued that Holland's "total football" didn't exist: "There was no such thing. It was just 11 great footballers in orange shirts.
By the time the other teams had worked that out, the orange shirts had scored two goals
Samuel adds: "At least Holland’s claim to play total football was built on a tangible philosophy, tactical and technical.
"Mind games are just ephemeral moments, a press conference quip, the unrelated exposure of vulnerability. We make the connections. We join those dots."
And his take on the current situation, with Mancini declining interviews after City's 1-1 draw at Stoke left the way open for United to take a clear lead if they beat Fulham tonight?
He insists: "Ferguson didn’t get into Mancini’s head, Dean Whitehead’s forearm got into David Silva’s face, and the Manchester City manager thought not enough was being done by referee Howard Webb to protect his team.
"Is he feeling the pressure at the business end of the season? No doubt. Is he feeling pressure because Ferguson is messing with his mind? Unlikely.
"Stoke striker Peter Crouch caused more psychological trauma than Ferguson ever could, by scoring the goal of his life, and arguably of the season, to put City behind. These are the moments at which even the most composed coaches lose reason.
Had it happened against Arsenal, Arsene Wenger would have been doing his Basil Fawlty impression
"It is possible that City will surrender the title in the coming weeks and, if they do, the explanation will be considerably more intricate than a little baiting between friends."
David Platt will second that emotion. He tells Sky Sports of the reaction to Sir Alex's "Tevez" comments: "Robbie just laughed. It's not a problem to him. It's not about him and it's not about Sir Alex. It's about the two teams alone and apart."
But Ian Herbert in the Independent argues that "City can be sure they – and Tevez in particular – will be nagging away in the Glaswegian's mind.
"One of the games Ferguson has discussed perhaps more than many others in recent years was the late win at Stoke (in 2009) which he always considered pivotal to United clinching the title that year.
"The matchwinner was a player who provided further fleeting hints on Saturday that his restored powers could do United some serious damage. Carlos Tevez."