Mind games don't have a rule book. Great managers bring tactical astuteness and man-management chops...and the dark arts of the sport, aka mind games, to the table.
From ruffling the feathers of adversaries with pre-match rhetoric to intimidating the officials and administrators with their verbal tonic, the football managers most adept at mind games have many tricks up their sleeves, with not all of them adhering to sportsman spirit all the time.
Five football managers great at mind games
It is the game you play before the actual game; you could sometimes win the latter if you excel at the former. So without further ado, let us count down five great managers, retired or active, who have been known to be adept at mind games.
#5 Bill Shankly
Billy Shankly turned around the fortunes of Liverpool as their manager during the late 60s and 70s, taking the club back to the First Division and then winningthe league thrice while also achieving success in Europe.
He was also dexterous at mind games, wearing down opposition players and coaches even before kick-off.
Legend has it that Shankly, who in many ways gave birth to the modern Liverpool football club, had once told Bobby Charlton, Manchester United's best player at the time, before a crucial game that he looked very sick and should see a doctor once he gets back to Manchester.
A worried Charlton withdrew from the squad. as a result, to get checked for an imaginary illness. Remember that was the pre-social media and smartphone era.
#4 Roberto Mancini
A great tactician but an even better reader of psychology, Roberto Mancini clearly won the mind games over Sir Alex Ferguson when Manchester City famously snatched the Premier League title from their great rivals, United, on the most dramatic final day in the league's history.
Mancini stressed that the title race was non-existent or over often during the campaign, always insisting that United were the overwhelming favourites. That put the onus and the pressure on the Red Devils, who fell short on goal difference on the final day after Sergio Aguero scored with virtually the last kick of the game against QPR to win the game and the league for the blue half of Manchester.
Roberto Mancini's self-effacing tactics had worked wonders. The decorated manager is still going strong as the gaffer of the Italian national team now.