When can you tell that a manager thinks his team has a chance of winning the title? It’s when he says they aren’t in contention.
And when can you tell that a team hasn’t much chance at all of winning the title or getting to where they want to get? The manager starts talking about their chances.
Step forward Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers who have both talked down the chances of their team winning the Premier League.
It won’t have escaped your notice that Chelsea are currently top and Liverpool only four points behind in fourth. For me, and despite the fact some of their recent defending would embarrass an Under-11 side, that makes Liverpool genuine contenders at this stage and turns the title duel from a three-horse race to a four-horse race (including any little horses!).
Nobody actually believed Mourinho anyway when he said they wouldn’t win it and talked of being happy to finish second and that next season was to be the season. Yeah, ok Jose. Right now, and with a final run-in that includes lots of teams near the bottom, they are definitely favourites.
As for Liverpool, Rodgers knows that if they keep in touch, anything can happen.
As for David Moyes, no more title talk now. Unlike a couple of weeks ago. His Man United side were well off the pace, struggling to beat ordinary teams at home and everybody knew they wouldn’t be retaining the title. Yet he still said they were in with a chance. No, you weren’t.
Same with the play-offs. Managers need to be optimists but when some start suggesting they can still make the play-offs, you know there’s not much chance. Neil Warnock, in one season with the Blades, kept mentioning the play-offs yet United only once in the second half of that season got above 13th.
When the FA Cup draw for the fifth round was made, Sheffield Wednesday at home to Manchester City would have been perfect. Why? To mark the 80th anniversary of Hillsborough’s record crowd, an astonishing 72,841 for a fifth round tie against, yes, Manchester City on this weekend back in 1934.
I once worked with a bloke who said he was on the Kop that day and insisted he could stretch out his arms! Even demonstrated it. ‘Only’ 68,000 saw City win the replay so 140,000 watched the two games.