By Martyn Herman
LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho gets a final chance to outwit a player he calls his "favourite enemy" on Sunday when Steven Gerrard leads Liverpool out at Stamford Bridge for the last time before he heads off to join LA Galaxy.
With Liverpool's players expected to form a pre-match guard of honour for the newly-crowned Premier League champions, Mourinho paid his own tribute on Friday to the inspirational Liverpool skipper he says helped forge him into one of best managers in the business.
"It's opponents like Steven Gerrard that have made me the manager I am," a relaxed Mourinho told reporters on Friday.
"I learn with my own players and I learn with my best opponents by the problems they give me, the way they make me think and analyse them and to study the best way to play against them. Steven Gerrard is one of my favourite enemies.
"For sure he is my dear enemy and for sure the one that made me a better manager. To try to stop him has been very, very difficult. I lost against him, I won against him, I drew, was happy, was sad, I played against him as a holding midfielder, as a number 10, coming in from the wing.
"I'm very sad that's it's the last time I play against him because I need people like him to make me better."
Mourinho said he respects Gerrard for devoting virtually his entire career to Liverpool, even if it meant his attempts to sign the former England captain proved futile.
"I tried to bring him to Chelsea, to Inter, to Real Madrid but he was always a dear enemy," he said.
"I want to honour him and I hope that Stamford Bridge has the same feeling that I have.
"He's had an amazing career and has amazing feeling with his people. He refused to play for other big clubs and big leagues.
"Maybe I'll play against him as Liverpool manager one day."
Although Chelsea won the title with three games to spare thanks to last Sunday's 1-0 home win against Crystal Palace, Mourinho said there will be no slackening and he denied his players had been given four days off.
"We have three difficult matches and Liverpool need points, Sunderland need points, only West Brom will be in a situation of playing their last game without needing points," said the Portuguese. "But it doesn't matter, we want to win.
"We don't have to win points, but if we can reach 90 it would be a beautiful number." (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis)