Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea have evolved this season. Adam Davy
odd one

Mourinho says Chelsea's home loss to Sunderland was his 'highlight' of the season

The Portuguese coach will finish his first season back at Stamford Bridge empty-handed.

JOSE MOURINHO BELIEVES that Chelsea have 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 mid-week victory over Aston Villa confirmed that Chelsea will go into their final match of the campaign at Cardiff City on Sunday knowing that their 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 stand-out moment, Mourinho picked Sunderland’s 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge last month, which brought his 78-game unbeaten home league run with Chelsea to an end.

“There was an evolution in every competitive aspect,” Mourinho told a press conference on Friday.

“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.

“We couldn’t go through the group phase of the Champions League in the previous season and we were relegated to the Europa League (which Chelsea won). And this season we went to the semi-finals.

“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 for the Champions League, playing knockout phase, quarter-final and semi-final.”

- Lampard ‘deserves statue’ -

But he added: “It’s not the kind of season that Chelsea celebrates, because that’s Chelsea’s nature and my nature.

“We’re not jumping for finishing third in such a difficult Premier League, and qualifying for the Champions League group phase. We’re not jumping and celebrating, but we knew when the season started that was very, very possible this was going to happen.

“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.”

Despite several high points, it was Fabio Borini’s winning penalty for Sunderland on April 19 that stood out for Mourinho.

The decision to award a penalty sparked a furious reaction on the Chelsea bench, with assistant coach Rui Faria subsequently handed a six-game stadium after attempting to confront referee Mike Dean and Mourinho fined £10,000 ($16,900, 12,200 euros) for sarcastically praising the match officials.

“This season I lost for the first time a match at Stamford Bridge, losing with a goal — the second goal — and for me that’s the highlight,” Mourinho said. “That’s my overriding memory of the season, yes.”

Chelsea have 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.”

- © AFP, 2014

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