Tottenham Hotspur “are a pony” who are not in the title race, said boss Jose Mourinho as his side returned to the top of the Premier League table.
This is the first time Tottenham have finished a day top of the league after 10 or more games since January 1985.
“A draw here is usually a positive thing. My dressing room is not happy. That is the best thing,” he said.
“It is fantastic. It is a complete change of mentality and personality.”
Spurs have not won a trophy since the 2008 League Cup, losing the 2019 Champions League final to Liverpool under Mauricio Pochettino.
Their only two league titles have famously come in years ending with one – 1951 and 1961 – as this season will.
Mourinho tried to quell that talk, despite praising his side’s mentality.
“We’re not even in the [title] race so we’re not a horse. We’re a pony,” he said.
In February 2014, Mourinho said something similar about his Chelsea side: “The title race is between two horses [Arsenal and Manchester City] and a little horse that needs milk and needs to learn how to jump.” They finished third.
At Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Mourinho gave Wales centre-back Joe Rodon, a summer signing from Swansea, a first Premier League start – and said he was a contrast to Brazil’s Thiago Silva, who joined Chelsea from Paris St-Germain.
“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,” said the former Chelsea boss.
“Maybe one month of Thiago’s salary pays Joe’s annual salary.
“Of course, Chelsea are one of the biggest contenders, there’s no doubt about that. I believe for them it’s not a problem at all to be two points behind.”
‘If we’re contenders, Spurs have to be’
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard played 215 times for the Blues under Mourinho. A win would have made him the only manager to beat the Portuguese in three consecutive league games.
He believes his former mentor’s team are title challengers.
“It’s Jose’s call to say it as he sees it from his end, but they are top of the league,” said Lampard.
“If we’re contenders then they have to be contenders.
“They have invested heavily – they’ve got people like Gareth Bale sitting on the bench, and Dele Alli’s not here.
“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.”
‘A gift for the fans’
Mourinho says he is delighted that his team will be top of the table at the start of the weekend that fans are allowed back.
Spurs’ derby with Arsenal next Sunday will take place in front of 2,000 fans after the government agreed to let a limited number of supporters into English football games outside the most Covid-affected areas.
“We stay top. I like the feeling. The feeling of playing the first game with public and being top is a gift for the fans,” he said. “Not just these 2,000 but what they represent – the universe of Tottenham fans.”