Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini came out with a strange statement this week prior to the big match with Premier League leading Chelsea.
Mancini admitted Chelsea was the best team in England.
"Chelsea are the best team in the Premier League at the moment. They are probably going to win the Premier League title easily," Mancini said.
This is coming from the manager of the team that just spent £120 this summer bringing in talent like Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Jerome Boateng. This is coming from a manager of a team many experts have predicted to win the league this year based on their talent.
But talent, of course, doesn't always bring titles. Perhaps Mancini is aware of this.
"They are a strong team," he went on talking about the Blues, "who have been playing together for many years. They have a fantastic manager and they have worked hard to get to this situation."
So, yes, Mancini may be aware of this, but should he be the one saying it? Do you really want your manager gushing over another team in the league and proclaiming them the champs in September of all months?
I can remember Sir Alex Ferguson stating a couple times in the last few years how he thought Chelsea the team to beat, but he would be careful to say that his team would be right there with them in the end; and he still thought Manchester United would prevail in the end. I cannot ever remember Ferguson conceding the race in September, let alone in March.
Perhaps Mancini is trying to light a fire under his players. But it didn't come across that way. He genuinely seemed to feel his team inferior to the team from London.
Granted, City is battling injuries right now. So certainly, on paper, Chelsea has a strong advantage going into the weekend clash. Mancini will be without the services of several players, including Micah Richards, Shawn Wright-Phillips, Wayne Bridge, Aleksander Kolarov, and Boateng.
Yet victory is certainly not impossible. City will still field a strong 11 for the Saturday showdown at Eastlands.
Perhaps I'm making too much of this. Maybe it is simply a manager admiring another team while at the same time trying to light a little fire under his squad. He certainly wouldn't be the first manager to do that.
Yet I can't help but think there was a certain amount of resolution in his voice when he said this. Almost as if he truly believes the battle for first is over and the game on for nabbing a spot in the top four.
One would hope he hasn't given up quite yet.