In a move Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of, Jose Mourinho recently made a public statement that "Manchester City were underachieving".
Provocative, challenging, but ultimately negative - a move designed to unsettle and raise doubts.
This psychological interplay between managers, just like sledging between cricketers or pre-fight banter at boxing weigh-ins, is an example of using negativity to exert influence.
Many who work in healthcare will be justified in feeling that they have received a huge media sledge in the last few years.
Some of this is based on quite real concern - unprecedented failings in care and resulting reports must of course be highlighted. But the negativity seems to have become a worryingly one-way street.
The NHS and related organisations are not in a fight with the media. It's not even in friendly fixture. But the air of negativity is certainly exerting an influence. And the effect is something that perhaps even the most calculating football manager would be proud of.
Of course, sport is not healthcare. Such analogies serve really only an illustrative purpose, albeit sometimes a powerful one.
What is true is that staff in health and care - the patients they treat well and the members of public that they serve, - cannot retort back. And with no obvious mechanism with which to defend and riposte, we are left to simply be ignored. So perhaps - like the English collapse in the Ashes - this leaves us more open to continued pressure. The bully realising that they have the upper hand.
Maybe part of the reason for this is that it's often uncomfortable for healthcare professionals to extol virtues and good practice. It would seem odd if all staff members came home at night and publically celebrated the great work they had done during the day. There are very few options, which don't leave you feeling self-consciousness about being vain or big-headed.
As a result, most of the fantastic care that goes on in the NHS, goes uncelebrated.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. One mechanism, which is taking hold as method of celebrating without congratulating is NHS Change Day. www.changeday.nhs.uk
This is a movement, which came from the grassroots itself. It's a chance for anyone - patients, public, health and social care staff - to pledge to do something positive on or around the 3rd March 2014.
The pledges are diverse http://www.youtube.com/user/NHSChangeDay but provide a positive affirmation of the NHS and all its related bodies.
In a world where it's sometimes too easy to sledge first and ask questions later, Change Day shows us that there are many interactions in the NHS - and we don't always need to be negative about them.
In fact, when you do the opposite of Mourinho and take the opportunity to say thank you to staff for a job well done - who knows, perhaps positive reinforcement could prove to be the most effective tactic.Suggest a correction