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Thursday 8 December 2016

'loss at spurs was turning point' - jose

Chelsea boss insists defeat pushed Blues to title victory

Jose Mourinho took time to reflect on a rollercoaster campaign which will see Chelsea lift the Premier League trophy after tomorrow'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."

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."

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