Mourinho insists Spurs just ‘a pony’ in title race

Mourinho insists Spurs just ‘a pony’ in title race

LONDON • Jose Mourinho knows better than most the value of grinding out points in away games against direct rivals so while his reaction to Tottenham’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Chelsea on Sunday was subdued, inside, he would have been delighted.

Spurs did not have an attempt on target in the second half at Stamford Bridge but they were tough to break down, as they claimed a point from a derby that has often been unkind to them.

While fans may question the entertainment value, and leaving Gareth Bale on the bench, the draw put the visitors back into top spot on goal difference above champions Liverpool, with Chelsea two points behind in third on 19 points.

“The best thing I take from the game is that the dressing room is not happy, we are not happy,” said Spurs manager Mourinho, whose side are unbeaten in the league since their opening-day defeat by Everton and have kept three successive clean sheets.

“That for me is fantastic, it’s a complete change of mentality.”

Mourinho, who won three league titles in two separate stints at Chelsea, has vowed to turn Spurs into winners, injecting more pragmatism into a team who threatened to win trophies under predecessor Mauricio Pochettino but never delivered any.

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said the Portuguese would be delighted with his side earning a point, having lost both league games to Chelsea last season.

“I imagine Jose said at half-time, ‘Let’s get a point by hook or by crook’, he said. “They beat Manchester City last week, now they get a point at a vibrant Chelsea side. It’s not pretty but he is trying to turn this Spurs team into winners.”

But in his post-match news conference, Mourinho downplayed their chances of landing a first league title since 1961.

“We’re not even in the (title) race so we’re not a horse. We’re a pony,” he said.

His opposite number Frank Lampard admitted the hosts lacked a little bit of “magic” to prise open Spurs’ defence, which was marshalled by deadline-day signing Joe Rodon on his first league start.

“I thought we dominated big parts of the game,” the Blues boss said. “We almost gifted them a goal. It’s hard to break down when Spurs defend with the low block.

“I am sort of balanced after the game. Big parts were great, hence the clean sheet. But a game we maybe should have won.”

But he dismissed Mourinho’s suggestions that Spurs were dark horses, claiming it was mind games from his former mentor.

“It’s Jose’s call to say it as he sees it from his end,” he said. “If we’re contenders, then they have to be contenders… They would expect to be in the race… I think we are all competing.”

REUTERS