The old guard of Chelsea, which means the players who won titles with Jose Mourinho during his first run with the club, is still alive and kicking. The most surprising of the remaining champions is John Terry, whose ability over the last few years has been disappointing to be gentle, yet his overrated leadership skills remain a reason to make him a big part of the squad.
Chelsea are at their best when David Luiz is in the lineup, next to either Bransilav Ivanovic or Gary Cahill. The difference between Ivanovic and Cahill is in consistency. At his best, Cahill is the better player, but he tends to make more mistakes than Ivanovic when you look at the long haul. Ivanovic has his weaknesses, but he does quite well to mask them, even if he’s playing outside his favorite position, sometimes filling in as right back.
But Terry? He wasn’t part of the team that won the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013. That didn’t stop him from waiting, fully dressed to play, in the stands in order to lift the trophy. Yes, he helped along the way during the earlier stages, but its’ hard to say that the exaggerated leadership quality that keeps him as a relevant player on a team that needs centre backs of higher quality than him.
Terry is now hitting that stage of his career in which every season is a battle to earn his next contract. There’s no doubt he can make more money playing elsewhere (for example, Monaco), but he has spent his entire career with Chelsea, and would like to extend it past this summer, when his current deal runs out.
At the moment, it seems like Mourinho wants Terry, still, as his leader on the pitch. Despite the speed that never was very impressive, but now it seems like his decision making can no longer make up for it. The physicality that always was his most impressive attribute, has slightly faded away, as big strikers have a huge advantage over Terry, who resorts to dirty tactics more and more often to keep himself dominant on the pitch.
Mourinho has better option – three of them actually, than John Terry, when you try and do the calculations about the leading central defender. His leadership, along with Frank Lampard and Didier Dorgba, was necessary after Villas-Boas was fired and Roberto Di Matteo took over. Now? Chelsea didn’t finish third last season because lack of leadership – they simply didn’t have a good enough team for most of the season.
Terry is the bad example of an old guard – overrated experience and leadership that make managers and fans blind to what he’s really become – a mediocre centre back on a team that can’t afford anything but very good and excellent. Cahill and Ivanovic both don’t give Chelsea the perfect partner for David Luiz, who it will be very surprising to actually see going to Barcelona, but they’re both a better option than John Terry playing in front of Petr Cech.