CARDIFF CITY 1, CHELSEA 2
A bullish Jose Mourinho was left wondering what might have been on his Chelsea return and pondering his summer options after a Barclays Premier League-concluding win at relegated Cardiff.
Fernando Torres netted the decisive strike in a 2-1 win after substitute Andre Schurrle had cancelled out Craig Bellamy's first-half opener.
Serial winner Mourinho was left to bemoan the controversial losses at Aston Villa and to Sunderland after the Blues finished four points behind champions Manchester City at the end of a rare trophyless campaign for the self-proclaimed Special One.
Asked if Manuel Pellegrini's men, beaten twice by Chelsea, were worthy winners, Mourinho said: "I believe so. They are champions. They have four more points than Chelsea, two more points than Liverpool.
"They are not guilty of Aston Villa-Chelsea and Chelsea-Sunderland, it's nothing to do with them. They deserve (it).
"I never did (finish third). It's the first time. Third position is not a drama. It's a position we have to accept in this transitional period.
"You can't click your fingers and success arrives. This season it almost happened, but, for the last time, Aston Villa-Chelsea and Chelsea-Sunderland make it more difficult."
Mourinho, who will present his end-of-term report to the Chelsea hierarchy today, mentioned the two losses on six occasions while promising a title challenge next term.
He added: "Next season, if we do our work in a successful way during the summer market, I want to start day one saying that we are going to fight for the title.
"We need to improve and we don't run away from that responsibility. The club will not run away from responsibility of bringing a couple of important players to us.
"(And) I will not run away from my work to keep developing the team."
Mourinho insists the Chelsea squad does not require major surgery and wants to keep out of contract trio John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, who is considering his options away from Stamford Bridge after eight years.
Cole, who was second-choice left-back this term, captained Chelsea in the absence of Terry (knock) and Lampard (illness), both of whom are reportedly pondering contract extensions on reduced terms.
Asked if that was Cole's final appearance, Mourinho said: "I don't know, but I don't think so.
"He was not the captain to say goodbye in a nice way, he was the captain because he was the player on the pitch with more years of Chelsea."