Jose already planning for next season

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iol spt may10 Mourinho AP Jose Mourinho's thoughts are already turning to next season after Chelsea's interest in the Premier League title race was ended before their final-day trip to Cardiff City. Photo by: Sang Tan/AP

Cardiff, United Kingdom – Jose Mourinho's thoughts are already turning to next season after Chelsea's interest in the Premier League title race was ended before their final-day trip to Cardiff City.

Mourinho's team will face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's relegated side at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday knowing they are almost certain to finish the season in third position.

But while qualification for the Champions League has been assured, Blues boss Mourinho is clearly frustrated there will be no silverware at Stamford Bridge this season.

Chelsea's challenge has fallen short because of their failures in front of goal, particularly in costly defeats to Sunderland, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

Mourinho's priority is now to remedy that weakness in the transfer market and the Portuguese coach has confirmed a leading goalscorer is his main target.

Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa is believed to be a priority, along with Paris Saint-Germain pair Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

And Mourinho said: “A striker is something we have been speaking about for a long time.

“In December and January, when people were asking and trying to understand why we weren't bringing one in, I said it's something we were working on and preparing for the long-term future, not just an immediate solution to try to help us for the rest of the season.

“It's normal that we are going to bring a striker, it's normal we want to improve.

“We have good strikers, we have good players and we are not in a desperate situation, but every team wants the summer window to improve.

“And one area where we want to improve, which we've made clear since January, is the striker's position. We have three at the moment, normally one is coming and one is leaving.”

Mourinho expects the World Cup to delay Chelsea's efforts to strengthen and he added: “More and more, if the window is open until 31 August people delay, they react and wait to see what is happening with their own players.

“It's very difficult to finalise deals early, especially with the World Cup. Now the players disappear and go to the World Cup so it's more of a time to find a direction and analyse details.

“To decide the project for next season, the project for the transfer window and make the deals happen.”

Out-of-contract pair Frank Lampard and John Terry are unlikely to make the trip to south Wales because of injury, while Samuel Eto'o is also a doubt.

Cardiff's fate has already been confirmed and the club will drop back into the Championship after a solitary season in the Premier League.

The campaign has been marked by a number of bitter twists and turns, principally surrounding the relationship between club owner Vincent Tan and Malky Mackay, the manager who guided the club to promotion before being sacked in December.

The relationship between the pair had grown acrimonious and Mackay was pursuing legal action against Tan before unexpectedly dropping the action this week and offering an unreserved apology to his former employer.

In a statement Mackay said: “My thanks to those at the club and the fans who have supported me during my time in Wales.

“If I have caused any offence to anyone during this time, especially to Vincent Tan, then I apologise without reservation.”

Solskjaer's priority is now to look forward to next season and skipper Steven Caulker admits performances this season have not been good enough.

“We can't point fingers, we're a team in there and we're all united,” he said.

“We know that we have to go again against Chelsea, be strong and put a performance on for the fans.

“We were not good enough on the pitch. We've got to hold our hands up and take responsibility for the way we've performed in too many games this season.” – Sapa-AFP

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