By Sam Lee
Former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke says Jose Mourinho is trying to take the pressure off his team by "feeding lines to the media".
Mourinho referred to the Blues as a "little horse" in comparison to fellow title-chasers Arsenal and Manchester City following an impressive 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium and has subsequently continued to play down the Blues' hopes of winning the Premier League.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger suggested on Friday that managers who avoid talk of the title do so because they are afraid of missing out, which prompted Mourinho to claim that the Frenchman is an "expert in failure".
But Clarke, who worked alongside Mourinho in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, says he is just trying to alleviate the pressure on his team at a difficult stage of the season.
"Jose feeds lines to the media," he told Goal. "He plays the media fantastically.
"He feeds the lines and the media run with the lines and everybody gets a bit carried away with it - but he knows what he’s doing, he’s trying to take some pressure off his team, which is what any manager would try to do.
"He won’t be telling them they have to win the league, he’ll be saying you have to win the next game. At this stage of the season when it’s so tight at the top, with so many teams involved, it’s a matter of not making too many mistakes, not dropping too many points.
"It’s probably the worst cliche in football but it's about taking it one game at a time, you can’t afford to look too far ahead.
"At the moment, they’re top of the league. There's a long way to go and, to be realistic, you have to say that any of the top four can win the league, because you never know what’s going to happen."
Steve Clarke was speaking as part of the Budweiser Open Trials, in association with BT Sport, where he will help choose and manage the amateur footballers who will play in front of professional scouts at Wembley in April.
Watch the first part of the Budweiser Open Trials on BT Sport on Saturday, March 8, as part of its FA Cup coverage, and subscribe to YouTube.com/BudweiserUK to keep up to date with all the action