After so many years and so many incidents, it’s hard to separate John Terry the player from John Terry the man, the private individual, especially when one of his most famous scandals occurred on the pitch. Jose Mourinho seems like he’s going to stick with the Chelsea captain early on, but besides being quite the influential figure for the team, he’s simply isn’t good enough anymore.
Terry is a Chelsea legend, and during Mourinho first tenure at the club and for a couple of more seasons after he left he was one of the best central defenders in the world, maybe the best. But time has changed, passed, and flew by. Terry was never fast or even close to that, but some of his chases after faster players (remember Walcott and Van Persie in 2011?) where mighty close to embarrassing.
He’s a warrior, you have to give him that. But he’s also one of the dirtier players around, which works quite well for Chelsea, but in an attempt to take a more objective look at his actions, it doesn’t really bode well for his ability as a defender or doing any good for the game.
Terry can still beat almost anyone in the air, and his tackling timing remains quite impressive. But the moment Ricardo Carvalho was gone from his side, the decline, which might have begun a bit earlier, was quite easy to spot. Terry was never one of those centre backs who makes up for his lack of speed with perfect positioning, always at the right place at the right time. Once the physical traits that kept him near the top of the game for so long start withering away, it shows, clearly.
David Luiz is Chelsea’s best centre back, it isn’t hard to see. Not just in defending, but in his ability to do things with the ball. He has no problem playing as a defensive midfielder or build up an attack, and he’s not the one who should be worried about Terry’s rise up the ladder since Mourinho arrived after two rough seasons, with Andre Villas Boas and Rafa Benitez not being his biggest fans.
Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic? Cahill would have been the perfect replacement, but he is too inconsistent to be trusted on this team, especially with their defensive midfield problems, which haven’t been solved by bringing anyone new. He might be the most dangerous out of the foursome when it comes to being a scoring threat, but that’s not enough to find himself in the lineup.
Branislav Ivanovic is the interesting case, despite not looking like the most interesting of people. He’s strong in the air with an excellent heading ability, which has paid off for Chelsea in the past. On some days he looks strong and quick enough to handle any striker, but on others he makes silly mistakes that no one seems to understand. And yet he doesn’t lose his mark as easily as Terry does these days.
Being a captain shouldn’t guarantee you a place in the lineup. Leadership isn’t overrated, but it’s not everything, especially when there are others to take your place. Terry will always be a Chelsea legend but he shouldn’t be in the starting lineup for Jose Mourinho.