The penultimate game of the campaign ended in frustration for Jose Mourinho’s side as we were held to a goalless draw by a stubborn Norwich City side at Stamford Bridge, all but ending our hopes of overhauling Manchester City and Liverpool to win the Barclays Premier League.
Andre Schurrle came closest to winning the game for the Blues when he saw a first-half strike come back off the foot of the post, and while the German and Eden Hazard had what looked like legitimate penalty appeals waved away after the break, we didn’t do enough in the final third.
It was a result which ensures we qualify automatically for the group stages of next season’s Champions League, but Mourinho felt our Champions League exit in midweek impacted on our display, particularly in the first half.
‘The team was much better in the second half,’ he said. ‘It was a lazy first half; slow, no pressure, the midfield weren’t arriving to press the opponent, the passing was very slow.
‘When you lose a Champions League semi-final and you know you are not realistically in the title race, the mental energy and focus disappears. You start think more about what’s next then what you have to do now and that was reflected in the first half, which was typical of that state of mind.
‘In the second half we were much better, good enough to win, but we didn’t. The game was a bit of a contradiction because they had to win to try to have a chance to survive but they didn’t try, and we needed a point to finish third and we risked everything.
‘In the last part of the game pragmatic people with a calm view of the situation could ask what we were doing, we only needed one point to finish third and we took off Matic for Torres. We wanted to win our final home game and give the fans a better feeling, in the second half we deserved that but we didn’t score.’
On the penalty decisions, for fouls on Hazard and Schurrle, which went against us
‘The Hazard one I saw during the game but to confirm I ran to my office and arrived in time to watch and go back to the dugout laughing. The other one I didn’t and it’s better not to speak about it.’
Mourinho praised the efforts of his strikers
‘Our strikers are good strikers, no doubt about that, but they are players with specific qualities, they are not the kind of players who, in five square metres, with three or four players around them can get the ball, dribble around and make the shot.
‘When the team is in a difficult situation they are not normally able to resolve that but they are good players, players I respect and they have given everything over the season to help.
‘To compete in a competition full of good teams and in the Champions League against the best teams in the world, which isn’t the case in the Europa League, the boys did a good job. It didn’t make us completely happy, of course, we want more, but it’s a base from which to start from next season.’
Overall, he has been pleased with his side over the course of the season
‘They tried everything. We could have been better in some matches, for example against Crystal Palace where we didn’t play very well.
‘We could have killed matches – Everton, Newcastle and Stoke – where we had the matches under control and we didn’t kill them. It’s a very dangerous league, during the whole season if you lose two matches you are out of the top four.
‘Important teams didn’t reach their minimum objectives and we managed to always be there. We were never in danger, never outside the top four and never out of the title race. In the end we didn’t manage to win it but we were always there.
‘In the Champions League it was the same. Big teams went out in the early stages. Juventus didn’t make the knockout phase. Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Barcelona all left the competition early and we managed to get to the second leg of the semi-finals. For the group we have, and the potential we have, I think we did okay.’