Could this turn into his greatest mind game yet at Chelsea?

Gaffe is a word unlikely to be found in the Mourinho dictionary. A man that has become infamous for his cool and calculated approach to press and media handling, any slip of the tongue would come as a surprise. The Chelsea boss is known for the odd outburst, but there has always been a masked agenda, a manipulation of the press to suit his ends.

So when it comes to apparent off-air remarks about his Chelsea striker force is it more of the same mind games, or is the Portuguese tactician finally losing his magic touch?

The Premier League boss was captured last week in Nyon making disparaging comments and jokes about his Chelsea front line. The exchange was believed by Mourinho to have been off air, but Canal have since published the footage on their website with Chelsea not denying the authenticity of the recording.

Mourinho is pictured at a sponsors event with Hublot, commenting on the Blues lack of depth up top:

“The problem with Chelsea is I lack a striker,” he said. “I have Eto’o but he is 32 years old, maybe 35, who knows?”

The comments were meant to be light-hearted but they have already dominated headlines ahead of the clubs Champions League clash with Galatasary. Eto’o is currently Mourinho’s favoured frontman, so his throwaway remarks hardly say much for the rest of his forward line.

The question though is to whether this was a slip at all?

Mourinho may not have expected to have conversation broadcast, but he is smart enough to know that cameras were around and that someone would have been listening in.  The conversation went further to address the issue of Falcao and his possible destinations in the summer:

“I don’t have Falcao but Falcao doesn’t have a team,” said Mourinho. “Who wants to play in front of 3,000 supporters? If I was one day to go to Monaco it would be at the end [of my career].”

This is something you would expect from the likes of Joe Kinnear and certainly not Jose Mourinho, a man that prides himself on his media handling. To suggest that this is part of a more calculated plan isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, especially when you add Mourinho into the equation.

Mourinho has ramped the pressure up on his current crop, suggesting that fresh moves will be made in the summer should the unit continue to misfire. So how will they respond, will they stick their heads in the sand or will they strive to do better?

The frontline is what separates Chelsea from another league crown, and to do his upmost to get them scoring again is the manager’s priority. Mourinho will use any trick in the book to get his way, and you shouldn’t just discount this from being another mind trick played by the man that is the master of the game.

The risk though is that this has the opposite effect, rather than firing up the likes of Ba and Torres it simply shows a lack of faith. With the knowledge that they may be axed in the summer, their unwavering loyalty to Mourinho may drift. This is the risk that the manager has to take, and given how inconsistent they have been so far up top it doesn’t seem a bad one.

Maybe I like so many have got caught up in the aura of Mourinho, a man that in some people’s eyes simply doesn’t have the capacity to make a mistake.

The slip in Nyon is a surprise whichever way you look at it.

A rare media mistake or simply taking mind games to the next level?

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