Jose Mourinho: "For some teams, the third position is something that people live with in a happy way. We don't. I don't. That's why, in this moment, we are thinking about next season." Photo: Reuters
Jose Mourinho believes that Chelsea has made progress this season, but his abiding memory will be of the moment he lost his unbeaten home record in the Premier League.
Manchester City's midweek victory over Aston Villa confirmed that Chelsea will go into its final match of the campaign at Cardiff City on Sunday knowing its title challenge is over.
It means that Mourinho will finish his first season back at Stamford Bridge empty handed after his side exited the Champions League at the semi-final stage and fell short in the domestic cups.
The manager, though, believes the club has moved forward, despite the lack of silverware, although he admitted that this was not a season to celebrate given Chelsea's record of success in recent years.
Asked to select his standout moment, Mourinho picked Sunderland's 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge last month, which ended his 78-game unbeaten home league run.
"There was an evolution in every competitive aspect," Mourinho said. "Last year we were out of the title race by November, and when Manchester United were champions, the distance was around 20 points.
"After that we reduced it a bit, but we were always a huge distance to the top of the table. This season we fought until it was mathematically impossible; so we maintained a competitive aspect.
"For some teams, the third position is something that people live with in a happy way. We don't. I don't. That's why, in this moment, we are thinking about next season."
Chelsea has yet to decide on the futures of club stalwarts Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry, who are all out of contract at the end of the season. Both Terry and Lampard are fitness doubts for the trip to Cardiff, with Lampard having picked up an illness this week and Terry nursing a knock.
Mourinho hinted that he does not expect Lampard to leave in the close season, but said that the England man will deserve to be honoured when his Chelsea career finally comes to a close.
"There is nothing I can say [about Lampard's future]," Mourinho said. "On his career, his Chelsea career - not now, because he's too young, but maybe in a few years he'll have a statue where [former Chelsea striker] Peter Osgood is on the side. He's one of the biggest players for this club."