Whether you like it or not mind games are an integral, and on the whole rather amusing, aspect of football management.
Here in the Premier League many a beleaguered boss has fallen victim to Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous tricks of the trade, Jose Mourinho simply revels in this side of the game, while even ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Claudio Ranieri got involved in the action en route to leading Leicester City to the title.
As temperatures dramatically drop in the nippy winter months, this season’s Premier League title is set to hot up as the early contenders for England’s top gong attempt to juggle the frenzied flurry of festive fixtures that are crammed into the schedule at this chaotic time of the year.
Mourinho aside, manager mind games have been in short supply so far this term, although Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has inadvertently revealed that rival Jurgen Klopp is trapped in his head!
Guardiola was asked at a Liverpool University talk on Wednesday whether he liked to read, to which he replied:
“I love to read, but I don't read.
“I start to read and then I start to think 'Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp' and I cannot focus!”
It may have been a lighthearted comment, but Guardiola is well aware that Klopp’s Liverpool mean business this year as they attempt to bring the Premier League trophy to Anfield for the first time in the club’s history.
Meanwhile, Klopp himself will no doubt secretly love the fact that he occupies a place in the Spaniard’s mind, and will hope that his rival’s brain will be fried by the time they next lock horns early in the New Year.
Undefeated defending champions City currently hold a two-point lead over a similarly unbeaten Liverpool, with Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea - who are also yet to suffer a defeat - a further two points behind in third spot.
All three teams are in action on Saturday as Guardiola’s table-toppers take on West Ham at the London Stadium, Klopp’s men travel to Watford, and Sarri’s side do battle with Spurs at Wembley.