Mourinho savours title triumph
Jose Mourinho took time on Friday to reflect on a rollercoaster campaign which will see Chelsea lift the Barclays Premier League trophy after Sunday's final match of the season against Sunderland.
The Blues boss began his final pre-match media conference of the season by paying tribute to Frank Lampard ahead of the midfielder's final match in the English top-flight.
Mourinho, who could be without playmaker Eden Hazard (teeth) and goalkeeper Petr Cech (calf) for Sunday's match, chose his season's highlights as the moment the title was mathematically confirmed and the response to the New Year's Day loss at Tottenham.
"The trophy, the object, the silver piece, means less than the feeling. For me, the feeling was Crystal Palace," said Mourinho, whose side won the title on May 3, with three games to spare.
"I was feeling for many months that this title will be ours. The reality is that that moment, when mathematically it's done, is my favourite moment.
"The defeat against Tottenham, January 1, equal points with the champions, losing an advantage of seven or eight points we had before that, I think was a key moment.
"It was a big test for the mentality, a big test for the emotional balance, for the character, for the personality."
Having begun the season with a 22-match unbeaten run, Chelsea were under scrutiny at the turn of the year.
After the prior match - at Southampton, when Cesc Fabregas was booked for diving instead of awarded a penalty - Mourinho spoke of a "clear campaign" against the Blues.
Asked if he regretted the comment with hindsight and Chelsea champions, Mourinho reflected a little ruefully.
He said: "Maybe campaign is not a nice word, maybe I would take out that word from my explanations, from my comments, but that's the reality.
"We had very bad decisions over a big period of time. But that's football."
There were few bad decisions as Chelsea lost just four games in all competitions this term - all to managers whose surnames begin with the letter 'P' - won the Capital One Cup and claimed a first Premier League title in five years.
Mourinho was named Premier League manager of the year on Friday, having missed out on the monthly awards throughout the season.
"Never manager of the month, I was not waiting for this," he said.
"It's a club trophy, it's not individual."
Hazard was named the player of the season, adding to his Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association awards.
The Belgium playmaker has played in all 37 of Chelsea's Premier League matches, but could miss the 38th and last due to undergoing emergency dental surgery to remove three wisdom teeth this week.
"His mouth is in trouble. I don't know if he can (play)," Mourinho said.
Cech is also doubtful for what could be his final match after 11 years as a Chelsea player.
Although the 33-year-old has one year remaining on his contract, he may ask to exit as he has been displaced by Thibaut Courtois as first choice this term.
Arsenal and Manchester United are among the clubs reportedly chasing Cech's signature, but Mourinho refused to discuss his potential future destination.
"I would like him to stay. I have no preferences in (the) case he leaves," Mourinho said.
Fabregas is suspended following his dismissal in Monday night's loss at West Brom, but striker Diego Costa is expected to start.
Mourinho has admitted it has been difficult to motivate his players with the title secured.
He wants to finish with a victory against Sunderland, the only team who have beaten him in a Premier League contest at Stamford Bridge.
"When you reach the objective it's hard to keep them in this level, competitive animals," Mourinho said.
"It's a bit like predators. When they hunt, after that the predator relax a little bit.
"The guys are going to try to do everything to win the match."
Mourinho memorably threw his medal into the crowd after winning the league in his first spell.
This time, he will keep it for his son, Jose junior.
"(He) steals everything from me. Shirts, medals, cups," Mourinho said.