Jose Mourinho claims he is still the “Special One” after being asked how he would feel if he goes a second successive season without a trophy.
The Chelsea manager insists he is judged by higher standards precisely because of his record of success, but that he is “proud” to be “guilty” of failure like that.
Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Despite being second in the Premier League and two points behind Liverpool with two games remaining, the destiny of the title is in third-placed Manchester City’s hands as they have a game in hand over the top two.
Earlier this week, Cristiano Ronaldo also claimed Carlo Ancelotti deserves the credit for transforming Real Madrid into Champions League contenders after they ended their last-four jinx, with Mourinho failing to get the club past the penultimate stage of the competition in three attempts.
Evidently anticipating questions about a second successive barren season, Mourinho – who had also agreed with his defender David Luiz that Chelsea’s campaign will be a failure if it ends without a trophy – embarked on a strident speech.
“I’m going to tell you something, a bit of the history of my career. My career reached, against Inter, the maximum you can reach when you win everything. In 2010 I won everything: Scudetto, Copa Italia, the Champions League,” he said.
“After that, this is the history of my career. In the first season [after 2010] I won the cup against the best team in the world, finished second in the league after the best team in the world and I lost the Champions League semi-final against the best team in the world.
“The next season I was champions against the best team in the world, the champions of the records – 100 points, 126 goals, the record team – and we won that league. We lost the Champions League semi-final on penalties in a day when two of the best penalty takers in football missed, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“And that was a ‘bad’ season. In the third season we won every match against the best team in the world, in the league, the SuperCup, the Cup, at the Bernabeu, at Barcelona. We won everything against them. We won the SuperCup. We lost the league, finished second. And we lost the Champions League semi-final by one goal.
“And the fourth season, which is this one, and probably the first where I don’t win a single trophy – unless we win the league – I go to the Champions League semi-final and fight for the title until the last [day of the] season. So these are the four bad seasons of my career.
“It went wrong by going year after year like nobody else did. You arrive at a level where finishing second is not good, losing a semi-final is not good. So I’m proud of that. Guilty of that.”
Mourinho also maintained that this campaign was “transitional” but not one that will prevent Chelsea from aiming for victory next season.
“For a transitional season, to fight for the title until the last moment and go to the Champions League semi-final I think is a good step, especially because what you do normally is compare with the season before,” he said.
“We are ready for the improvement we need for next season, and we need that. So many teams need years and years to build. We are in a transitional period, but it’s not out of context to say this team deserves to start next season with a base to do well.”
Mourinho, meanwhile, said that it was healthy that John Terry cried after Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final elimination to Atletico, but that it was now important to immediately bounce back.
“Today he was smiling. That’s the way you have to react. Last year, when they were knocked out in the group phase, were they crying? I don’t think so,” he said.
“Why? Because it was the group phase. You cry if you lose a Champions League semi-final second leg. You build expectations, you are guilty of your own frustration because you build the expectations, doing so well. You put yourself in a position where you dream, you make people dream and make it feel possible, and you go to the limit and when you feel you’re almost there, you don’t do it.
“So you’re frustrated. John had a very good Champions League and, again, against Atletico, had a very good game. To cry a couple of tears I don’t think makes you less of a man than you are. But two days later you must show you are a man and ready to work again and play the next game.”
“That’s life. I think they come back like they had to be. Obviously, not jumping. But with the feeling that they had a good Champions League campaign. They did everything they could.
“And, in football as in life, you have to react to disappointment. Today we try to build a training session where they could recover some smiles, some happiness, some good feelings because we have two more matches to play and we have to do it in a professional way, with motivation to try and finish the season with the feeling of a victory.”