As his first season back in charge of the Blues draws towards its conclusion, Jose Mourinho has been reflecting on the campaign and explaining why he feels his side can only get better.
The disappointment of Wednesday’s Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid is understandably still fresh for the Chelsea manager as well as his players.
However, the Portuguese provided an insight into how he implemented changes earlier in the season in order to help us reach the last four, as well as taking the fight for the Premier League title to the wire.
‘I feel that in a conscious way I knew what I was doing at a certain moment of the season, I made the decision to stop the evolution in the style of play and I went in a direction that with these players we have we could get results,’ said Mourinho.
‘I felt we couldn’t arrive where we did in the Champions League if we didn’t change our style of play. The team became more strategical and less intuitive because we went for results.
‘There was a moment where I felt this Premier League was so dangerous that it was a big risk for every one of the big teams to be out of the top four. The reality is that this Premier League is a big risk and next season will be the same.
‘Man United are out, I think Arsenal will do it but they were in trouble, Everton are a threat, Tottenham are a threat.’
The experience acquired this season by the younger members of his squad will undoubtedly aid their development for the long term.
Mourinho, on the whole, has been pleased with the progression of his side, both individually and collectively.
‘He had a good season, an improvement,’ he said when asked about Eden Hazard. ‘He was brought to a different level of performance and understanding of the game.
‘For example, his performance at Manchester City was very complete. He’s a young guy and his evolution is fine. Does he still make mistakes? Of course he does. It was the first time in his life he played a Champions League semi-final, it’s a career that is only starting.
‘When everybody thinks about players of the season people normally go to the creative ones and strikers. I look to Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic, they had an amazing season.
‘My strikers are good players and they did good work for us. I’m happy if they are here next season again and all my respect to them.
‘With the production of attacking football, we didn’t always have the killer profile, even our wingers and number 10s. We had lots of games where we were fantastic; at Everton, for example, at half-time it should have been 5-0 and it was 0-1.’
There is little doubt the foundations for our success have been built by the solidity of the side defensively. To go to Anfield, the Etihad, the Emirates and Old Trafford, and emerge from all four stadiums without conceding is some achievement, and one not lost on the manager.
‘To play in an attractive way is when you create seven chances and score five goals. Because of that you can concede two or three and still win,’ Mourinho said.
‘Look how many goals the Liverpool strikers score, they didn’t score against Chelsea. You see how many goals Diego Costa has scored this season but over two games he only scored a penalty against Chelsea.’