LONDON // At the final whistle, blue and silver streamers floated down from the stands, We Are the Champions blared out and Roman Abramovich clapped in that strangely malcoordinated way of his.
John Terry dropped to his knees, clutching his head in apparent agony. It was his fourth league title and, as the "strategic" phase of Chelsea's season has gone on, he has emerged as one of the two defining players.
In a more likable personality, this might perhaps have been portrayed as his season. As Terry noted after the game, he was effectively written off two seasons ago by Rafa Benitez, but he has emerged as the dominant presence of the past couple of months. In another player, that narrative might have been celebrated.
“When you work so hard and you are champions, you feel that you got what you deserve,” Jose Mourinho said. “That’s a good feeling. I still enjoy feeling tired after a difficult game. I could choose another club in another country where I could be champion easy, but I chose the hardest league in Europe.”
This has been a particularly draining week for Mourinho. After the win over Leicester City, he took a private plane to be with his father as he had surgery. “He’s getting better,” Mourinho said.
He left Stamford Bridge for another hospital, off to visit Ramires, who was named in the starting line-up but fell ill before kick off and had to be replaced by Juan Cuadrado. Reports in the Brazilian media suggested he had kidney stones.
The other key figure for Chelsea this season has been Eden Hazard, a deserved winner of the PFA Player of the Year, so it was appropriate that he scored the goal that sealed the title, heading in after his penalty had been saved two minutes before half time.
Perhaps the Chelsea of the early part of the season would have pushed on in search of further goals, but having played the best attacking football early in the season, Chelsea have since played the best defensive football of the season. Mourinho, as though in a deliberate riposte to those who have criticised his side’s style of play, ended the game with Nemanja Matic, John Obi Mikel, Kurt Zouma and Filipe Luis in midfield: a carnival finale this was not.
This was Mourinho's eighth league title in 12 seasons spent in four countries and his third Premier League title in four-and-a-bit seasons in England. Only seven managers have won more, and none has won the title in two separate spells at a club.
“In my country,” Mourinho said, “we say don’t go back to a club where you were happy before because it’s a risk.” It is a risk that, in this case, has paid off.
“The first title was difficult because it was the first for Chelsea in the Premier League. The second one, our team was so strong and we had many great players in the best years of careers.
“This one is different. Chelsea is different, the players are different. My team is one where so many are winning the Premier League for the first time, which is something they have to learn how to do.”
And as for the criticism that Chelsea has been boring? “My dogs bark,” Mourinho said, ”as the caravan goes by.”
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