Jose Mourinho was in an honest mood during his last pre-match press conference of the season.
The Portuguese boss knows he can no longer lead Chelsea to this year's Premier League title when his side travel to Cardiff, but he suggested the squad are just a few players short of making a greater impression.
Mourinho's failing strikers have been the topic of much debate throughout the campaign, but he expects that to change during the summer, per Miguel Delaney of ESPN FC:
Mourinho asked on how many players he needs: "Not many. As I was saying, a striker is something we are speaking about for a long time."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Mourinho: "When you were trying to understand in Jan why we didn't sign striker, we were preparing for the long term, not just immediate."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Mourinho: "Now, it's normal we bring in a striker, it's normal evolution of the team. One area we want to improve is striker position."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Mourinho: "We have three strikers at this moment. Normally one is coming, one is going. That is normal and logical."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Mourinho previously reminisced about a mixed campaign for the west London club. His developing team have flitted between brilliant and woeful, summed up with a league win away at Manchester City and losses to strugglers such as Newcastle, Aston Villa and Sunderland.
The boss indicates this year's disappointment was necessary for the long-term development of his squad. Despite a lack of trophies, he believes progress has been made, as reported by the club's official Twitter feed:
Jose on this season: 'Positive. There was an evolution in every competitive aspect.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) May 9, 2014
Jose: 'This season we fought until it was mathematically impossible, the previous game. It was an evolution.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) May 9, 2014
Jose: 'Last year we were relegated into the Europa League. This year we were in the [Champions League] semi-finals.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) May 9, 2014
Jose: 'It's not the kind of season Chelsea celebrates. We are not jumping, but we knew it was very possible [3rd] would happen.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) May 9, 2014
Mourinho was unable to confirm whether the futures of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole remain at the club. He did, however, suggest Lampard would one day be immortalised outside Stamford Bridge after becoming Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer back in May 2013. Delaney and the club's feed provide details:
Mourinho on whether it's Cole, Terry, Lampard last games. "I don't know... I don't think so."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Jose on Frank: 'In a few years maybe he will have a statue on the side of Peter Osgood. He is one of the biggest players of this club.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) May 9, 2014
Fresh on the news, via TheFA.com, that FA chairman Greg Dyke is planning on installing League Three into the English football structure—a division that would host Premier League B teams—Mourinho cheekily hinted his comments wouldn't go down well if he supported the idea or not, per Delaney:
Mourinho asked on B teams. "I'm afraid to comment. If I praise, I might be punished. If I criticise, I might be punished."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Mourinho's favourite moment of the season: "The action of the goal of my first defeat in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Mourinho: "I lost with the goal, and that's the highlight... [the overriding memory of the season?] Yes."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 9, 2014
Such a quote goes a long way to underlining Chelsea's season. Although players such as Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle and Willian made decent progress and helped secure a plethora of positive results, it's the moments of failure that define this year's empty trophy cabinet.
Mourinho has proven he can build title-winning teams throughout his career. Chelsea's task remains difficult, but with significant funds and a proven boss behind the side, Stamford Bridge is unlikely to wait too long before further success arrives.
A summer of transfer activity awaits, as Mourinho looks to improve on this year's all-but-confirmed, third-place finish.