Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte appears to be running away with the English Premier League title this season after opening a ten-point lead despite playing a 1-1 draw against Burnley at Turf Moor.
Conte however will have to do more to galvanize his team to the title in May, with Manchester United’s manager, Jose Mourinho, finding a way to play with his mind.
Although Conte says he is not perturbed, football pundits and fans know too well that Mourinho’s mind games cannot be ignored.
During his two stint at Chelsea, Mourinho constantly used mind games against other managers and somehow he got away with it.
Arsene Wenger can attest to Mourinho’s mental powers and speech prowess after having used it on the Frenchman on more than one occasion.
The Arsenal boss has previously accused Mourinho of playing mind games, as did Sir Alex Ferguson when he was at Manchester United and Mourinho was in charge at Stamford Bridge.
For now Conte can heave a sigh of relief only because Mourinho’s Man Utd are sitting in the sixth position 12 points off Chelsea but that is not to say he will not be given a run for his money.
With matches against Manchester United and Manchester City to come, Conte must find a way shield his mind from Mourinho’s antics.
After the draw against Burnley, Conte looked an unsettled figure when asked to react to Mourinho’s statement.
Conte said he does not like Mourinho’s “joking” after the Manchester United boss said Premier League leaders Chelsea cannot be caught because they are a “defensive team”.
Mourinho, known for trying to engage in mind games with his rivals, said his former team will not slip up because they win with “counter attacks”.
“He’s playing,” said Conte, who is in his first season as Chelsea manager.
“I have the experience to understand this.”
Mourinho was speaking after Manchester United beat Watford 2-0 on Saturday to extend their unbeaten run to 16 games. They are sixth in the table, 12 points behind Chelsea.
However, Conte said: “I don’t like to reply about the other coaches.”
Mourinho has often engaged in psychological battles with his rivals and has mostly come out tops.
When he was Chelsea boss in 2014, he ruled the Blues out of a title battle with Manchester City and also challenged then City boss Manuel Pellegrini over his spending.
Pellegrini chose to ignore his counterpart’s comments.
The Portuguese also accused Wenger of being a “specialist in failure” that same year and then claimed the Arsenal manager was “not a rival” when Chelsea were on course for the 2014-15 Premier League title.