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Jose Mourinho's Dark Arts Image Is All Part of His Chelsea Masterplan

Mourinho has the capacity to manipulate the media and to direct the press' attention where he sees fit. It is an attribute that so few top-flight managers possess but in modern football, it can be an essential tool in the coach's artillery.

Jose Mourinho is a frustrating figure. He is as divisive as they come, insanely arrogant and seems to get a kick out of getting under the skins of managers, players and referees. Since returning to the Premier League in the summer of 2013, he has been well and by far the most-discussed manager in English football - to the point where people tire of his behaviour.

However, underneath his smug exterior lies a simply brilliant footballing brain. Not only is Mourinho a tactical genius and a superb motivator, he knows exactly how to play the media. Much like Sir Alex Ferguson - whom he has expressed admiration and respect for - the Portuguese loves to engage in the dark arts of football.

His propensity for stirring controversy in press conferences and interviews is now reaching legendary status. This season, Mourinho has concocted conspiracy theories of a campaign against his team, a campaign against Diego Costa and a campaign against him. He was fined £25,000 for 'a campaign to influence the referees' after Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Southampton in January.

"That's a campaign, that's a clear campaign. People, pundits, commentators, coaches from other teams - they react with Chelsea in a way they don't react to other teams," the Blues manager said. Although the Mourinho-media war is deepening, it only serves to reignite our fascination with the 'Special One.'

Mourinho knows exactly how to play the media. He also knows exactly how to drill his team in the dark arts. There has been several instances this season of Chelsea players surrounding the referee while Branislav Ivanovic was among the most disappointed on Sunday night to not pick up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor after his embarrassing foray into footballing theatre.

The burly Serbian, for example, portrayed his proclivity of simulation as recently as Boxing Day, when he nose-dived under minimal contact from West Ham's Andy Carroll.

That is not to suggest that Mourinho sends his players out with specific instructions to dive when they have the opportunity, but their openness to fling themselves to the ground is born out of Mourinho's masterplan; a twisted but immensely focused programme for winning.

Mourinho, like Ferguson, will unwaveringly defend his players while verbally tearing into opponents with barely a shred of reluctance.

Mourinho's construction of a siege mentality is a by-product of his masterful media manipulation. After a bizarre post-match interview following the 1-1 draw with Burnley - where Mourinho refused to delve into the specifics of the game's controversial incidents - he phoned Sky Sports' Chris Kamara to request a place on the Goals on Sunday sofa. Kamara accepted, after months of trying to get the Portuguese coach on the couch and come Sunday morning, there was Mourinho, sitting there, ready to make his next move.

Looking back on the episode, Mourinho's use of the highly-popular round-up show was sheer genius. As the sole guest for two hours, Mourinho was able to voice his grievances in detail and without much interruption from either Kamara or Ben Shephard. Call it a rant, call it a rave, call it whatever you will - the fact was Mourinho was right. Suddenly, he became almost like the victimised coach who was merely disappointed that his team failed to get the result he felt he deserved.

He had a point in saying that Ashley Barnes should have been sent off for his reckless challenge on Nemanja Matic and also had a point in saying that Diego Costa should have been awarded a penalty after being shoved to the ground by Jason Shackell. In addition, in using 27 minutes of television time to comprehensively dismantle the extraordinarily poor performance of referee Martin Atkinson, Mourinho has effectively broadened the discussion and deflected media attention onto officials. Much like how Fergie used to do.

Mourinho has the capacity to manipulate the media and to direct the press' attention where he sees fit. It is an attribute that so few top-flight managers possess but in modern football, it can be an essential tool in the coach's artillery. Of course, Mourinho can be less than subtle with his controversial statements (calling Arsene Wenger a specialist in failure would be an example) and these can rightfully prompt punishment. Calling a referee a cheat is also an unacceptable remark but we are not to be fooled by Mourinho's off-field façade.

At the end of it all, when he is in the dressing room with his eleven players, his winning mentality shines through. He can manipulate, frustrate, amaze and thrill but one thing will always stay the same through the smoke and mirrors and the dark artistry of mind-games management; Mourinho has a plan for winning, and it works.

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