John Terry has warned Manchester United that Chelsea are already focused on regaining the Barclays Premier League title after all but surrendering it this season.
The champions' 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday saw United move six points clear with just two matches remaining and captain Terry immediately vowed to do everything possible to wrest back the championship next year. The 30-year-old revealed he had made a point of congratulating Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson, even though it "hurt" to do so.
He told Chelsea TV: "I just wished him well. You have to be graceful in defeat and we have thoroughly enjoyed the times we have won. You get a focus for next year and we will be aiming to take it off them."
He added: "Over the years, he has popped in and said congratulations to us and he and his team are well respected across the world. But it does hurt when you do it, and it drives you on as well."
Next season looks set to be under new management, with Carlo Ancelotti appearing resigned to losing his job at the end of this term.
Beating United might have made billionaire owner Roman Abramovich think twice about wielding the axe.
Terry blamed what is set to be Chelsea's worst season since Abramovich bought the club not on Sunday's defeat, but on their worst run in the league for almost 15 years at the end of 2010.
He said: "I remember Man United topping the form guide when we were probably down the bottom of it somewhere and that coincided with them overtaking us and giving themselves a nice cushion.
"Credit to our management and the lads for digging in, and the fans as well who have been brilliant all season, because two months ago we didn't look in it at all and we were worrying about qualification for the Champions League.
"But we put a good run together and gave ourselves an opportunity coming into Sunday's game so that deserves credit."