As he looked ahead to final game of his first season back in charge of the Blues, Jose Mourinho expressed his satisfaction with the development of his team.
The Portuguese conducted a pre-match press conference for the last time this campaign at Cobham, ahead of Sunday’s game at Cardiff where, after drawing against Norwich last weekend, we will be looking to finish on a positive note.
Mourinho reported the likelihood is that he will be shorn of the services of three key players.
‘Frank Lampard is ill, he’s in bed,’ said the Portuguese. ‘If today Frank is in bed I don’t think he will come tomorrow with conditions to travel.
‘Samuel Eto’o got an injury in training today and John Terry got a little thing yesterday. Normally all of them will be out.’
The Blues boss was asked to give his assessment of our season as a whole, and he has been pleased with our progression, particularly in comparison to the previous campaign.
‘It was positive, there was an evolution in every competitive aspect,’ he said. ‘Last year we were out of the title race by November, when Man United were champions the distance was 14 points. This season we fought until it was mathematically impossible, until the previous game, two games from the end of the championship.
‘In Europe we didn’t get through the group phase of the Champions League last season, we were relegated to the Europa League, and this season we went to the semi-finals. I’m not saying we fought until the last minute of the second leg but at the start of the second leg we were in a good position to reach the final, so from a competitive aspect it was an evolution.
‘Some of the players had that experience of fighting for the title for the first time and fighting in the Champions League, playing in the knockout phase, quarter-final and semi-final.
‘It’s not the kind of season we celebrate. We are not jumping because in such a difficult Premier League we finished third and qualified for the Champions League group phase without play-offs, but we knew when the season started it was possible this was going to happen.
‘For some teams the third position is something they live with in a happy way; we don’t, I don’t. That’s why we are turning our focus to preparations for next season.’
With the transfer window set to re-open on 1 June, thoughts have already turned towards shaping his squad for next season, and Mourinho has made no secret of his wish to sign a striker, although he expects to have to wait until the culmination of the World Cup to conclude any business.
‘A striker is something we have been speaking about for a long time,’ he said. ‘In December/January, when you were all asking and trying to understand why we weren’t bringing one in, I said it’s something we were working on and preparing for the long-term future, not just an immediate solution to try to help us for the rest of the season.
‘It’s normal that we are going to bring a striker, it’s normal we want to improve. We have good strikers, we have good players and we are not in a desperate situation, but every team wants the summer window to improve, and one area where we want to improve, which we’ve made clear since January, is the striker’s position. We have three at the moment, normally one is coming and one is leaving.
‘More and more, if the window is open until 31 August people delay, they react and wait to see what is happening with their own players. It’s very difficult to finalise deals early, especially with the World Cup. Now the players disappear and go to the World Cup so it’s more of a time to find a direction and analyse details, to decide the project for next season, the project for the transfer window and make the deals happen.’
On the whole, Mourinho has enjoyed his first season back in the Premier League, even remaining philosophical about some of the defeats.
‘I like being back and I enjoyed most of the things that have happened,’ he reflected. ‘I don’t enjoy defeats but to lose, for example, at Crystal Palace, is English football. To lose at Newcastle, in spite of a very good first half, that’s English football.
‘To lose like we did against Sunderland and Aston Villa is not English football, but what’s happened has happened. In football if you stay too much with the past, good or bad, good memories or bad memories, it’s not the best way to prepare for the future.’