Chelsea to wait on trio's future
Jose Mourinho insisted Chelsea are in no rush to clarify the futures of captain John Terry, record goalscorer Frank Lampard and England left-back Ashley Cole after what could be the final Stamford Bridge match of the vaunted trio's distinguished Blues careers.
A blunt performance in a goalless draw with relegation-threatened Norwich saw Chelsea denied the win required to restore them to the top of the standings entering the concluding week of the season.
The players undertook a lap of appreciation afterwards, with tears flowing in what could be Terry, Lampard and Cole's farewell, with their current contracts expiring after next week's match at Cardiff.
"They are with the club on their future," added Mourinho, who says he wants all three to stay.
"Now it's time to wait a little bit. The summer is a long summer for us.
"For the players involved in the World Cup it's a different story, but for us, as a club, it's a long time to be calm and to sit and to discuss and to analyse options and the market and possibilities."
Mourinho preferred to laugh rather than cry after watching his side's slim Premier League title hopes fade further on Sunday as the point saw them concede further ground to Manchester City and Liverpool.
He lamented referee Neil Swarbrick's decision not to award Eden Hazard a penalty when Ryan Bennett swiped wildly at the Belgium forward.
Mourinho rushed to his office in the Stamford Bridge tunnel to confirm his initial suspicions that a spot-kick should have been awarded.
"I saw (it) in the game, but to confirm I had a quick run to my office and I arrived in time to watch (the replay) and then go back to the dug-out laughing," said Mourino.
Why the laughter? "Because I can't cry."
With his assistant Rui Faria serving a six-match stadium ban following his dismissal against Sunderland and Mourinho facing Football Association disciplinary proceedings of his own, the Portuguese then kept his counsel.
He declined to assess the challenge on Andre Schurrle by Alex Tettey which might also have resulted in a spot-kick or discuss the moment when Norwich were denied by the officials when John Terry clattered Martin Olsson.
Mourinho added: "My assistant is in jail."
In assessing the first season of his second spell, Mourinho made a cryptic reference to the controversial losses to Aston Villa and Sunderland.
"Without festivals it would have been a better season," added Mourinho, who admitted the midweek Champions League exit may have sapped his side's energy levels.
Mourinho was critical of Norwich for not seeking the win they needed to boost their survival prospects as now their relegation could all but be confirmed on Wednesday, but his side's display again demonstrated their lack of cutting edge.
"They needed to win to try to have a chance to survive, and they didn't try," Mourinho said.
"We needed one point to finish third and we risked everything. We wanted to finish winning at home.
"In the second half we deserved that, but we didn't score.
"Our strikers are good strikers, but are players with some specific qualities.
"They are not the kind of players who in five square metres, with three or four players around, who can get the ball, dribble on, see the space and shoot.
"So when the team is in a difficult situation they are not able to, normally, resolve the situation for us."
Hazard collected the Blues supporters' player of the year award on the pitch before kick-off but was only a substitute.
The Belgium forward, who has been continually linked with Paris St Germain, was criticised by Mourinho in the wake of the Blues' loss to Atletico Madrid.
Mourinho admitted Chelsea were improved after Hazard's introduction.
"The team was much better in the second half," Mourinho added.
"Was Eden playing in the second half? Yes. Had he responsibilities in the second half? Yes."
Norwich's relegation could be completed on Wednesday.
A draw between Sunderland and West Brom - two and three points above Norwich, respectively - would all but seal their fate as they have such an inferior goal difference that a win at home to Arsenal next Sunday would be immaterial.
Canaries boss Neil Adams said: "Now we keep our fingers crossed and hope for a few results.
"If we go into the last game of the season, Arsenal at Carrow Road, needing to win the game, that's all we can hope for.
"We didn't want to lose the game. If we'd lost, we were down.
"We had a stonewall penalty denied us in the first half.
"It's pretty clear. Martin gets a touch to take it away from Ashley Cole, and John Terry's momentum takes him out. Probably (a red card, too).
"Had we got that we might have been leaving Stamford Bridge with three points instead of the one."