John Terry & Roman Abramovich – Who’s In Charge?
It’s fairly safe to assume that John Terry has been operating under the assumption that his place at Chelsea was a job for life. There has been talk of him requesting a managing role at the club when he retires and his recent behaviour with regard to telling the club which players he thinks they should sign has been another indicator of a footballer that doesn’t particularly see his role as being, well, a footballer.
It was reported when both Avram Grant and Felipe Scolari quit the club that player power had got out of control, and Claude Makelele’s autobiography, released earlier this year, claimed that Terry had been the major factor behind Jose Mourinho’s removal from Stamford Bridge. Somehow, though, the managers were blamed for this rather than the players themselves, although it all seemed to calm down a little bit when Guus Hiddink took over. Maybe, as a personal friend of Roman Abramovich, he had a quiet word with the owner before he left to return to Russia, but it certainly seems as if a tipping point has been reached.
At the start of the summer – and with a lack of self-awareness that is almost endearing – Terry gave a list of the players that he feels that Chelsea should sign (one would like to think on a sheet of paper headed “From The Mind On John Terry and written in purple crayon) to the club’s management. As we said on here at the time, perhaps unsurprisingly it didn’t have any central defenders on it. None of the players on that list have since signed for Chelsea. Such behaviour is in keeping with someone that has long seemed to be of the opinion that he is “mas que un player”.
It is entirely possible that the management of the club are playing a game of double bluff. Much as they wouldn’t want to lose Terry as a player, they have to reign in his influence at Stamford Bridge. He may well have a future at the club, but what the club itself is starting to realise is that his influence is starting to run out of control and that the drawbacks of having him there may be starting to outweigh what he brings to the team. Manchester City seem more than happy to throw money at both Terry and the club, and there seems to be a suspicion that Terry is using City’s interest to try and leverage himself a pay increase from the £140,000 per week that he already earns.
“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” may well be the belief within Stamford Bridge. Roman Abramovich is a largely benign presence at the club, but he rules with an iron fist when necessary. Their sole big signing of the summer so far, Yuri Zhirkov, would seem to indicate that they are finally starting to act in the manner of a club which is self sufficient in its funding for players. £4om starts to look like an attractive deal for a defender who, at twenty-nine years old and having had a back injury recently, may be starting to pass his peak, especially if it sends out a message to the rest of the playing staff that the days of them running the training sessions and picking the team may be at an end.
All of this comes, of course, on the day that Carlo Ancelotti takes over at Stamford Bridge. It is impossible to say what the new manager’s view of the club captain may be, but Chelsea are paying him a lot of money and it is difficult to believe that he will put up with what the likes of Avram Grant did before him. There is, with the other Big Four clubs stagating in the transfer market this summer, a window of opportunity for Chelsea ro reassert their position at the top of the Premier League this season. John Terry could yet rescue his career at Stamford Bridge, but it will need to be a new, humbler Terry that does so.