The John Terry saga has finally come to an end, we all knew it would and the result is one that most of us expected. The Chelsea skipper has signed a new one-year deal at Stamford Bridge after a furore that bordered on pantomime.
It is hard to know how keen the Blues were to give Terry an extra 12 months. After all they were pretty much bullied into offering the deal.
The love the supporters have shown their leader has been admirable, and it just goes to show how great a footballer the former England man has been for the west Londoners. Combine that with Terry’s incredible PR campaign that has seen him plan a match for his family and friends at the Bridge after the end of the season (which he then cancelled), compose a tearful speech after the final home game and stand and applaud every side of the ground as the applaud him in the 26th minute.
Whether Terry has forced his way to a contract or not is irrelevant, the problem is it could be an absolute disaster for all involved.
This is not character assassination of the defender or even a mass criticism of his abilities. It just so happens that this writer believes he is the best central defender of the Premier League era. Add in the fact that the 35-year-old is a bona fide piece of the furniture at the club and it makes sense to keep him around. There needs to be continuity at clubs in order to keep that connection with the fans, something that is so easily lost in the modern game were cash is king.
However, offering Terry this new deal seems to hint that he will be a big part of the incoming manager’s plans next term, after all it is well known that Terry, understandably, massively believes in his own ability, he does not want to sit on the bench for the vast majority of matches.
One suspects that this contract has been agreed with the blessing of Antonio Conte but either way it almost instantly puts the manager on the back foot. He is now almost being pressurised into picking the player more often than not.
If he opts not to play his captain, which is highly likely should he believe he is not the right fit, then he risks the wrath of both the player and the Shed End faithful. The Italy boss is no wallflower, he will come in and make an impact in a ferocious manner. This is a man who told the Juventus squad to ‘stop being so crap’. And it worked.
At Chelsea, if he opted to bench Terry for an extended period he would be left with a club icon with a bee in his bonnet, an angry faction of supporters and potential issues inside his dressing room. It is hardly ideal.
For those wondering why Conte would choose not to play Terry, after all, the famous number 26 hasn’t exactly been the major problem this season, there is sound reasoning as to why he won’t.
Conte’s Juve side operated with a solid defensive unit and it has been muted that Terry is the perfect player for his style. That couldn’t be more wrong. The once folically thinning former midfielder prefers his team to play a high line, squeezing the space higher up the pitch. That does not bode well for Terry.
When Andre Villas Boas swanned into the Bridge with his gruffled voice, tailored suits and new ideas he appeared set to introduce a revolution. Removing the older generation and changing Chelsea into a more attractive side. He found it hard to complete that change and was ultimately binned but he did introduce a much higher line, and it was Terry who fell victim.
In that 2011/12 campaign, the Pensioners skipper collected nine yellow cards. In the seasons since AVB’s departure the Barking-born defender has picked up two, four, four and five bookings respectively. That is no coincidence. The reason for that is not ill-discipline, it is the fact that he spent much of his time under the Portuguese manager chasing back towards his own goal, something we all know too well does not suit him.
There is no doubt that John Terry has a role to play at Chelsea Football Club, he simply has to be there. Nevertheless, the decision to offer him a new deal puts Antonio Conte in an awkward position and does not offer him the clean slate the club craves next season.