15Jose Mourinho told his Chelsea players that they would win the title this season before playing down their chances in public. He Mourinho ruled out hisBlues after the win at Manchester City, claimingtheywere “little horses” up against the Etihad thoroughbreds.

Mourinho, who saw Eden Hazard’s hat-trick against Newcastle put Chelsea top of the Premier League, warned his team about what he would say in the media – and that he does not believe a word of it.

In an almost identical speech to one he made to his players during his first spell at Chelsea, he told them he expects them to be champions.

A senior Blues source said: “Jose told the players before the West Ham game that they would hear him talk down their title chances.

“He told them to pay no attention because his intention was to take the pressure off the team and put others under the microscope.

“He also told the players that he believes they will be champions this season.”

Mourinho’s title mind games are a ploy he used when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004. Then he told his players he would publicly write off their championship hopes but privately insisted they would win the league.

He stayed in character on Saturday night by refusing to publicly admit his side can win the league – despite moving to the top.