Jose Mourinho has branded Tottenham a mere “pony” in a Premier League title race full of thoroughbred horses.
Spurs climbed to the top of the table after shutting down Chelsea to grind out a turgid goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho maintained both he and Tottenham’s players were left frustrated not to win in west London, despite Roy Keane suggesting to Sky Sports that such a claim must represent mind games from the former Chelsea manager.
The wily Portuguese then also claimed Frank Lampard’s Blues sit far higher in the list of title favourites this season.
Asked where Spurs sit in the Premier League title stakes, Mourinho said: “We are not even in the race. We are not a horse, we’re just a pony.
“You see the difference: Joe Rodon was playing for Swansea, Thiago Silva was for many, many years one of the best centre-backs in the world.
“Maybe one month of Thiago’s salary pays Joe’s annual salary.
“I’m very happy with Joe, I’m very happy with the squad and to be with my amazing coaching staff, coaching and leading these guys.
“I’m very happy with my team, with my guys and this mentality; we came, got the point, we’re top of the league, and we are not happy.
“Of course, Chelsea are one of the biggest contenders, there’s no doubt abut that.
“I believe for them it’s not a problem at all to be two points behind (Spurs and Liverpool).
“I don’t think it’s a problem for Chelsea, they know how powerful they are and what a squad they have.”
Chelsea forced by far the better openings on goal in an admittedly meagre return of attacking openings for either team.
Hakim Ziyech missed the chance of the day, blazing over after being fed by Ben Chilwell, while Timo Werner did put the ball in the net only for the offside flag to thwart the Germany striker.
Spurs could only muster one shot on target, and Mourinho’s men certainly appeared tactically entirely set up to stifle and grind out whatever they could.
When told that former Manchester United midfielder Keane had suggested that Mourinho was up to his old mind-game tricks though, Mourinho insisted Spurs were not satisfied with the draw.
“I respect Roy a lot, I like him a lot, and it was an incredible experience to work with him, learn from him,” said Mourinho. “But this time I don’t agree with Roy.
“It’s not true, my players are my witnesses. We came here to win, we were ready to punish them if they take the normal risks and dynamic they have.
“Chelsea played very well, tactically very, very well. But the same way I give credit to Chelsea for the way they played for the way they were organised, I think they also respected us.
“And I believe that there was, I don’t like the word fear because at this level it’s not about fear, it’s responsibility.
“On the pitch there was the responsibility of this match, I don’t want to lose it.
“Especially with the clock ticking, that feeling was present.”
Blues boss Lampard was pleased with his side’s disciplined defensive showing, lamenting only one missing piece of magic that would have sealed victory.
Lampard did however insist that Spurs must be considered title contenders if Chelsea fit that bracket.
“It’s Jose’s call to say it as he sees it from his end, but from the outside they are top of the league, it’s very close at the top,” said Lampard.
“If we’re contenders then they have to be contenders. If you’ve got Harry Kane and Son in your team – Son has got nine goals, Harry’s got seven, they keep clean sheets well because of the organisation of their team – they would expect to be in the race.
“They have invested heavily – they’ve got people like Gareth Bale sitting on the bench, and Dele Alli’s not here.
“There is a strong squad there. So I think we are all competing, but Jose can say it as he sees it.
“I suppose it’s irrelevant what the feeling is after the game from Jose’s point of view for us. We just have to focus on ourselves. We know it’s tight at the top.
“There are not just ourselves, Tottenham and Liverpool that are in the race, there are a lot of teams around us in this season which is looking slightly different to recent seasons.”