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May 9, 2014

Jose Mourinho satisfied with season

Frank Leboeuf explains whether his ex-club's trophyless season should be viewed as a failure or a success.

LONDON -- Jose Mourinho has described the 2013-14 season as a "positive" one for Chelsea, but said the club's failure to win any silverware for the first time since 2011 means they are not "jumping" with joy.

Worrall: Where did it go wrong?
Arbeloa on Mourinho approach

Chelsea drew 0-0 with Norwich last weekend and now have no hope of catching Manchester City at the top of table, but Mourinho pointed to the step up that many players had made during his first season back at Stamford Bridge, and took encouragement from the fact they were finally competing for the title again.

"There was an evolution in every competitive aspect," he 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, which was the previous game, two fixtures from the end of the championship, so 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, and this season we went to the semifinals and fought -- not until the last minute of the second leg, but we'd started that game in good conditions to reach the final.

"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, quarterfinal and semifinal. I think almost every young player had a step up in their formation. Not just 'footballistically' but also from their personality point of view.

"There was an evolution. 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 it in a happy way. We don't. I don't. That's why, in this moment, we are thinking about next season and, while you go next week to turn your focus to the World Cup, we are turning ours now to the preparation for next season."

Mourinho was also asked about his overriding memory or highlight of the season. Pointedly, he went for Fabio Borini's controversial penalty that secured Sunderland's 2-1 win at Chelsea. Cesar Azpilicueta dove in recklessly on Jozy Altidore to concede the spot-kick, but replays remain inconclusive.

"The action of the goal of my first defeat in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge," Mourinho responded. "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, yes."

Mourinho was fined 10,000 pounds this week for comments he had made about the officials following that game.

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