The last of Chelsea’s old guard is set to wave goodbye to Stamford Bridge after John Terry yesterday announced he will leave the club at the end of the season.
Arguably England’s greatest ever centre back and still an excellent representation of how young defenders should aspire to play like on the pitch. Take note, John Stones!
If he is to leave, Chelsea are making a big mistake. They need his experience in and around the squad at this time, whether it be in the changing room, in training or even on the pitch. In such a vital stage of transition for Chelsea and considering the uncertainty surrounding future management, the club cannot afford to lose his services in terms of the help he can offer young defenders coming through the academy.
Everyone associated with football, including Terry himself, knows he is more than capable of being a Premier League player for at least two more seasons, as evidenced by a couple of strong displays recently against Manchester United and Arsenal. It seems unthinkable though that he would play anywhere else.
At the moment, there isn’t a centre back at Guus Hiddink’s disposal that is better than Terry, which makes it all the more confusing as to why the club aren’t doing all they can to keep hold of his technical ability and footballing knowledge.
It is all good bringing in defender Matt Miazga from New York Red Bulls, but who is he going to learn from and take advice from at the club? He is only 20 years old and is stepping into a far more advanced league than the MLS, where he has played up until now.
Periods where managers have looked to move the club on without Terry have failed, with a prime example being Andre Villas Boas.
Experience and quality counts, age does not.
Terry played every minute for Chelsea during their title winning campaign last season and remains a pivotal part of the setup. Letting him go could prove costly with such a lack of experience and maturity throughout the rest of the team.
Controversy has never been too distant where the defender is concerned, but it would be unfair for that to overshadow the fact that he is a Premier League great- whether liked or not.
The loyalty and commitment he has shown to his club on the pitch has been admirable, though West Ham fans may not agree after he left Upton Park to join Chelsea.
His aggression and winning mentality has been at the heart of everything Chelsea have achieved over the past decade or so and is the reason why he more often than not worked so well with manager Jose Mourinho and his matching attitude.
Terry’s Premier League record of 40 goals as a defender will take some beating. If he was in the team and fully fit, the feeling was always that you were in for a tough afternoon- at both ends of the pitch. Always a threat in the air from set pieces and always alive in the penalty area to pounce on failed clearances and rebounds. It was like a striker’s instinct he had in the box and a desire to win that drove him to make the most of the chances that fell to him.
Forget his decline this season, he was been the standout Premier League defender for as long as many can remember. There are not many better at defending their near post than Terry, nor are there many with better positional understanding. The top Premier League attacking talents over the years will be wondering just how he so often managed to get the better of them.
The reason being is that he was so good at not putting himself in a position where his lack of pace or agility could be exposed, ensuring he dictated the movement of his opponent rather than the other way around. It is very rare that you would see a team get in behind him with ease and you could bet on him winning ninety percent of the aerial duals he went up for.
The absence of a long term and reliable defensive partner speaks volumes with regards to how important he was. He didn’t have the understanding that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic had at Manchester United for periods, however was just as effective on his own most of the time.
He defines solid and stands as the last old fashioned centre half in England’s top tier- no nonsense, tough tackling and intimidating. As an attacker, you could expect no time on the ball if he was marking you. A real nightmare to play against in terms of his work rate and physicality. I speak in past tense, even though he still has a big job to do for his team between now and the end of the season.
Not only has he been a tough and trustworthy defender throughout his career, he has also displayed the way a defender must use the ball at his feet. He has proven he can make long range passes and accurate forward passes through the midfield and has refrained from putting his side in danger when doing so. He never takes too many touches and knows his first job is to clear the ball, which is what the supposed new breed of defenders have to learn.
Everybody wants to be a Gerard Pique. Unless you play for Barcelona where you rarely have to defend like Pique, clearing the ball is your first job. John Terry is a great example of what the likes of John Stones and Chris Smalling must replicate which, again, is why it is so important Chelsea keep him to set the next ‘John Terry’ on the right path.
One of Roman Abramovich’s cheapest but most prized assets at Chelsea. Terry helped his side to the FA Cup crown in 2000 and was named UEFA Defender of the year in 2005, 2008 and 2009 before going on to complete a league and FA Cup double in 2010 and leading his side to Champions League glory against Bayern Munich in 2012.
Chelsea fans will be sad to see the back of him.