Monday, 7 December 2015

John Terry Absence Highlights Chelsea's Need For Leaders

It is very depressing to be a Chelsea fan these days. I am sure many have "BP". Chelsea fans thinking there was a flicker of light at the end of the dark and unexplained tunnel they have been faltering through this season were left aghast on Saturday night when it turned out to be the Bournemouth team coach travelling the other way.

Eddie Howe's newly promoted side gave as good as they got at Stamford Bridge and went one step better than their illustrious hosts by scoring the only goal of the game. While victory and three precious points in the fight for Premier League survival will have boosted Bournemouth's morale, an eighth league defeat for Chelsea shredded the renewed belief that beleaguered boss Jose Mourinho can rescue this miserable campaign.
John Terry absence highlights Chelsea's need for leaders
John Terry absence highlights Chelsea's need for leaders
The root cause of Mourinho's problem is the inherent lack of belief Chelsea players appear to have when the going gets tough -- and it's been tough for most of this season. When Glenn Murray scored what proved to be Bournemouth's winner late in Saturday's game, home heads dropped and shoulders sloped. There was only going to be one outcome.

Shorn of the services of injured skipper John Terry, Mourinho's side lacked leadership. That fist-clenched, chest-thumping, "come on men, they've scored one -- we'll score two," defiance was nowhere to be seen. Fortress Stamford Bridge has long since lost its aura of invincibility and the worrying thing for Chelsea is there's little sign of it coming back.

Terry, 35 on Monday, cannot battle on forever. Last season, the Chelsea legend played every minute of every game as the Blues stormed to the Premier League title. It was a superhuman effort that maybe took its toll on a body that has been placed on the line for his club week in, week out for over 15 years.

Terry epitomises the success that Chelsea have enjoyed in the period since Roman Abramovich bought the club. Progressing through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge gave added meaning to pulling on a shirt on match days. A sense of pride; a sense of achievement.

Playing for the Blues is a privilege that supporters can only dream of. At a time when stratospheric wages have detached footballers from the reality of regular life that the majority of fans experience, commitment on the pitch and a display of unity isn't too much to ask for. Right now, it's in short supply.
Abramovich's billions can buy many things, but what they cannot buy is heart and soul
Abramovich's billions can buy many things, but what they cannot buy is heart and soul
Terry galvanised Chelsea's dressing room and with him were true giants of the game like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech. Supermen, champions, idols -- revered by supporters, feted by managers -- they were untouchable in their prime. Not because of who they were, but what they did and the winning mentality they were able to instil in those around them.

Interestingly enough, Terry and Lampard pre-dated Abramovich's arrival at Stamford Bridge and yet the duo were the bedrock of Chelsea's future successes. They gave the Blues a winning identity that has been slowly ebbing away since that glorious night in Munich back in 2012 when Champions League glory was secured. Less than three years later, Chelsea have the look of also-rans.

Abramovich's billions can buy many things, but what they cannot buy is heart and soul. Terry and Lampard were given the opportunity to flourish at Chelsea by Claudio Ranieri, who was a passionate, knowledgeable and humble man who was the first manager to fall foul of the Russian's impatience. Mourinho, the man who replaced Ranieri, guided Chelsea to success but at the same time the seeds of today's problems at the Bridge were planted.

For all the money poured into the academy and the young players brought in in the transfer windows that have followed, there is no real sign of that solid Chelsea backbone regenerating. Where's the next Terry and Lampard? It's a question Abramovich is certain to have asked Mourinho both the first time he managed the club and now. The answer is anyone's guess.

If Abramovich wants to find the solution to Chelsea's current problems he should consult with Terry before he departs SW6.

Unless the Blues' skipper is retained in a coaching capacity, that day will come soon enough and the final link in the chain of success will be broken.

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