Pellegrini wins mindgames and the match, as Chelsea and Mourinho falter

Although it is early days of the 2015-16 Premier League season, Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over  champions Chelsea yesterday will reverberate to the core of Blues manager José Mourinho.

A defiant, argumentative and opinionated man, the Portuguese is the sorest of sore losers and although he will put a spin on the result in his press comments, as always, he will know in his heart of hearts that his side were second best by some margin yesterday.

From the first whistle when David Silva glided past Cesc Fàbregas to slide Sergio Agüero through on goal, the Etihad Stadium hosts were utterly dominant and a yard sharper, faster and better than the Londoners.

At this stage of the campaign the victory is the most important thing and having a five-point gap advantage over Chelsea will be a good feeling for City.

However, Manuel Pellegrini’s men will be full of confidence after the result and will believe that they are well positioned to win their third Premier League title in recent memory this season.

Chelsea haven’t started yet this season, with a lame performance and defeat against Arsenal in the Community Shield giving Arsène Wenger his first win over Mourinho.

Last week’s home draw with Swansea was less than convincing, with the sprightly Jefferson Montero suggesting that experience is no substitute for athleticism in the modern game – something the Blues lack in their back four.

One of the most notable things from City’s much-deserved victory over the Blues was the soundbites and subsequent tactical manoeuvres from the respective managers.

José MourinhoMourinho, so often the king of the press room, has given his teams a psychological advantage in the past with his bullish behaviour in front of the world’s media – with his continual chipping away at Pep Guardiola when the pair battled perennially in Spain a classic example.

This time though it appears that Pellegrini has won the war of words and backed this up with victory on the pitch.

The Chilean, so often understated, quiet and well-mannered, admitted that he did not expect an attacking game on Sunday, stating that Chelsea ‘never attack’ when they play against City.

A veiled attack on the West London manager, Mourinho retorted in his team selection by playing Fàbregas in the centre of the park and Ramires further forward on the right; a decision that hinted at more expansive tactics.

Just how much Pellegrini’s words had an influence over the Chelsea manager’s decisions remain to be seen, but this positional choice was exposed by a ruthless City.

Fàbregas, a fantastically creative player and proven performer on the biggest stage, has been found out in the boiler room since returning to English football, with the defensive side to his game not a strong point.

This was exposed by Silva, who had a debaucherous afternoon ravaging the space between Chelsea’s lines, with the former Barcelona midfielder powerless to stop him.

Surely using the more physical Ramires or Kurt Zouma in front of his defence, allowing Fàbregas to move forward would have been a more sensible option? Or would Pellegrini have been proven right in his defensive jibe if Mourinho had opted for this tactic?

In the aftermath of the fixture, the outspoken Blues boss stated that 3-0 was a ‘fake result’ and not-reflective of Chelsea’s second half performance.

Pellegrini retorted calmly by saying that his side were good value for a 3-0 lead at half-time, never mind at the final whistle – a statement few could argue with.

On this occasion it appears that the spin master Mourinho has lost the battle. His team need to buck up their ideas, and quick, if they are to avoid losing the war to an ominously good City side this season.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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