Tottenham are currently two points above Chelsea in table; Roman Abramovich will mark 1,000 game as Chelsea owner on Sunday as Mourinho takes his side to Stamford Bridge, Mourinho won three Premier League titles over two spells at Chelsea
Tottenham go to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, looking to retain their 100 per cent Premier League away record, and make it six wins in a row in all competitions.
Chelsea, of course, are in top form themselves. Victory for them would make it seven in a row.
Plenty, then, for both sides to fear? No, says Mourinho. Fear is not a word he recognizes.
“You’ll have to ask Frank if they fear us or not,” he said. “But I don’t think fear is the right word at this level. We don’t fear anyone.”
“We respect their potential and I think they respect our potential. Honestly, I don’t think they believe they are going to play an easy opponent,” Mourinho said.
“I would love them to feel that way, but I don’t think they do. Frank is a man with a lot of experience in football and I think they know we are a difficult team that is capable to go there and win.”
So, potential has improved, but by how much? Potential champions maybe?
Mourinho is coy.
“If potential is higher, the expectations are higher. But we are not focussed on the table. The table is something we are going to look at when the season is finished,” he said.
If history is any guide, Spurs fans may well very much enjoy looking at the table at the end of the season.
Mourinho has won the league in his second season at every club he’s managed, apart from Manchester United. They only managed runners-up.
Despite that impressive record, Mourinho is urging caution.
“I hope the fans look at us as a work in progress,” he said. “The others normally need years and years until they achieve something. I don’t think it’s fair that expectations of us exceed reality.”
‘We are confident – the spirit is positive’
Mourinho though is prepared to admit that seeing Tottenham top the league, prior to Liverpool’s draw with Brighton on Saturday, has boosted his players’ confidence.
“We are confident because we work hard, but of course good results help you feel much better and give you more confidence to play better,” he said.
Confidence is high and so is team spirit. Jose has a happy group.
“Spirit is positive,” he said. “The players have a great relationship between them, myself and my staff. We try to be their bosses but at the same time integrate that spirit.”
Sunday’s game will be in an empty stadium, of course. But next weekend’s north London Derby will be the first in front of fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since March.
Two thousand is a small start, says Mourinho, but very welcome none the less.
“It will be nice, even for the away team. Even the away team will feel motivated,” he said.
“Two thousand fans in a 60,000 stadium means the stadium will be almost empty, but better 2,000 than zero. It will be a nice moment for everyone who loves football.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has questioned the fairness of the announcement.
“I don’t understand why we will have 2,000 people in a stadium of 60,000 and 2,000 people in a stadium of 9,000,” Klopp queried a few days ago.
But Mourinho doesn’t agree with him even though, Spurs play at Selhurst Park in a fortnight’s time, which will be nearly a tenth full of Palace fans.
“It is what it is,” he said.
“I don’t believe this is the time to be moaning or complaining about the situation. Just be happy with a little evolution. Ten is better than zero, so let’s accept the way it is.”