Chelsea winger Willian says manager Jose Mourinho is using talk of an agenda against the Premier League leaders to motivate his players.
Mourinho's outspoken views on perceived refereeing injustices landed him a £25,000 fine from the Football Association last week and he shunned media duties before and after Saturday's 1-1 draw against title rivals Manchester City - an apparent protest over his fine and the coverage of top scorer Diego Costa receiving a retrospective three-match ban for stamping on Liverpool's Emre Can during Chelsea's League Cup semi-final triumph.
The Portuguese is often credited as being a master of football's mind games and Willian believes the present siege mentality at Stamford Bridge is being used to strengthen Chelsea's resolve as they battle for trophies on three fronts.
"I think he says these things to protect our group," the Brazil international told Perform.
"So he says it to motivate us and show he is with us all the time. Sometimes he says things to the media in order to make us stronger.
"As we are top of the league, everyone wants to steal our position. That is why he wants us to be aware of it and maintain focus."
Chelsea return to UEFA Champions League action against Paris Saint-Germain this month before taking on Tottenham in the League Cup final at Wembley on March 1.
But Willian maintains that there will be a huge sense of disappointment if Chelsea fail to close out a first Premier League title since 2010, having kept City five points behind with 15 games remaining this term.
Despite Mourinho's protestations that Chelsea were ill-equipped to win the league last season, they were well placed until a paltry return of one point from home matches against struggling Sunderland and subsequently relegated Norwich City ended their hopes.
Having missed out last term, Willian is determined to finish the job this time around.
"We have played more than half of the league games and the title only depends on us," he said. “If we don't win, it will be a big mistake from us.
"We need to win as many matches as we can, game by game, no matter if away from home, in order to win this title."comments