Football - Mourinho calm over trio's futures

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is unfazed as three of his most trusted lieutenants enter the final months of their contracts.

Captain John Terry, midfielder Frank Lampard and left-back Ashley Cole are all out of contract at the end of the season.

"It's a situation that doesn't worry me, doesn't worry the club and, I think, doesn't worry the players," Mourinho said.

"Their desire to play for this club, nobody has doubts about it. We want them to feel free to express and to enjoy these last years of their careers.

"Everything is very calm (and) at the end of the season, probably before that, the club will sit with them, the offer will be on the table."

Lampard became Chelsea's record goalscorer towards the end of last season as speculation mounted that he was to leave the Blues, who he joined in 2001 from West Ham.

He belatedly signed a one-year contract extension, but the 35-year-old's predicament then has led to suggestions of a similar scenario unfolding.

"Probably last season was more complicated," added Mourinho, who returned to Chelsea in June.

"John was not playing, Lampard was almost signing a contract with LA Galaxy and he was not also feeling important in the team.

"In this moment the situation is very, very clear. They trust the club, we trust the players.

"And, for sure, without conflict, the best decision for us and for them will be taken."

Lampard and Mourinho spoke about the England midfielder's future prior to the Portuguese being approached about a Chelsea return.

Mourinho added: "At that time I was Real Madrid manager, not Chelsea manager, and I gave my opinion. Just my opinion, as a friend at that time.

"The opinion was to wait. Trust yourself, wait, play. If somebody has doubts, try to show in the last part of the season how important you still can be for the club and do what you really want to do.

"If you want to stay wait, because probably you are going to stay. If, at the end of the day, you are not staying, you are free to decide."

Lampard, Terry and Cole have been at the forefront of Chelsea's success for some time, but Mourinho is now trying to instil the winning mentality of the trio within his whole squad.

Mourinho accepts that, for the first time in his career with a leading club, he may finish the season without silverware.

For him, personally, it is not acceptable merely to allow that to happen.

"It's not acceptable, because we don't want to accept for free," he said.

"We want to think that it's not acceptable, we want to think that we have to work hard to try for that not to happen."

Mourinho's most barren season was last term with Real Madrid, when they won the Spanish Super Cup, but finished runners-up to Barcelona in the Primera Division, lost the Spanish Cup final and exited the Champions League at the semi-final stage.

Chelsea enter this weekend's fixtures in third place, five points behind leaders Arsenal, who play at Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime ahead of the Blues' contest with Crystal Palace.

Asked what result he would favour at the Etihad Stadium, Mourinho said: "I would prefer a draw. If you ask me for one of them to lose three points or both of them to lose four points, I prefer both of them to lose four points - two each."

Irrespective of whether a trophy is won or not, Mourinho plans to take stock of his squad at the end of the season.

He would not be drawn on whether a trophy-less Chelsea manager would be given another opportunity, insisting only that the hierarchy and owner Roman Abramovich recognise the project Mourinho is overseeing.

"We are natural competitors, we are natural winners. This is the culture we want this club to have - especially our young players to understand," Mourinho added.

"We are in a transitional period. We just want to work to try to do the best we can.

"The period after the first season is a very important period, because you can analyse everything in a cold way, analyse not after two, three, four months, but analyse after 12 months; analyse not after five, 10, 20 matches, analyse after 50, 60 matches.

"That period is a very important period and, normally teams in the second season, normally they have to be better than in the first."