Frequent Jose Mourinho-mouthpiece Duncan Castles wrote the following this past weekend, which, if true, raises further questions about our recent transfer activities and lack of a proper long-term plan.
Chelsea's decision to dispense with the services of John Terry at the end of the current Premier League campaign was made before Jose Mourinho's December dismissal as manager. According to sources familiar with the Chelsea captain's contract situation, Terry's future was determined at least two months before he announced his expected exit from Stamford Bridge this week.
According to club sources, Terry returned from last summer's break in noticeably worse physical condition than the preceding two seasons, contributing to Chelsea's defensive frailties.
Mourinho had earlier identified central defence as the priority position for Chelsea to strengthen ahead of their title defence, noting that Terry's lack of pace and Gary Cahill's tactical weaknesses limited the team's options against stronger opponents in both Champions and Premier League matches. Though Chelsea's board failed to deliver the high-quality reinforcement Mourinho requested - instead signing the unheralded trio of Papy Djilobodji, Michael Hector and Matt Miazga - opinion has hardened against Terry.
The defender is now said to be considered "finished," with "no chance" of securing a further season's contract at Stamford Bridge. While the club is conscious of Terry's popularity with Chelsea's support, a long history of indiscipline and misbehaviour has done nothing to earn him special favor from owner Roman Abramovich.
-source: One World Sports
Chelsea's official word is of course that "channels of dialogue" are open with Terry and that no actual final decision will be made until a new manager comes in, but the above missive from "club sources" could explain why JT has resorted to starting a very public political campaign against the club, pitting the fans at the hierarchy's throats at an already very volatile time.
He was back at it last night, thanks to Sky Sports' eager cameras.
"It's a difficult one. The club is the most important thing but there's no communication between myself and the club at the moment. I said what I had to say, that's how it is. I've made it very clear I want to stay, but more important is getting up to where we should be in the table."
-John Terry; source: Sky
"I said what I had to say" — i.e. I realized I'm not getting a contract this time so instead of handling this as an internal matter, I've made it a public conversation that now involves football fans, paragons of rational thought in this universe, as well. All's fair in love and war and contract negotiations, I suppose.
But while it's easy to criticize the Chelsea Board (and especially their public face/scapegoat Michael Emenalo), the real question isn't why they've decided to not renew Terry's contract — Mourinho had no problems dropping the Captain earlier this season, after all — but why they have not put a proper plan into place for his succession, especially knowing that his time at Chelsea was coming to an end.
Obviously there was the whole John Stones saga, in all its public glory, and if we succeed there, then maybe we're not having this conversation. But we didn't; and while it takes two to tango and Everton eventually foiled our rather outrageously expensive plan rather spectacularly, surely our Plan B should've consisted of something more than Papy Djilobodji. Seemingly we put all our eggs into the Stones basket and when that sunk, we were left with nothing. Even more unorthodox solutions like Andreas Christensen or Kenneth Omeruo were allowed to leave on loan. Mourinho supposedly identified the need and the solution, but neither his preferred choice, nor anything even close to resembling his preferred choice was acquired. And now, thanks to Zouma's unfortunate injury, we're left with Matt Miazga as our third center back. Whoops.
In the board's defense, no one can predict injuries, especially devastating ones like ACLs, and over-planning for worst case scenarios can lead to disgruntled bench players (as it was, even Cahill was supposedly getting antsy recently). But with JT's powers on the wane, something more should've been done.
Fortunately (sort of), it's not too late. Thanks to the disaster of a season we're having, the last few months of this season can be safely written off. Perhaps as a last hurrah, the Terry-Cahill duo can muster up some old magic and lead us to a Cup win, even, before getting dismantled and enshrined in the club's hall of fame alongside other fond memories. I don't think offering JT a new deal at this point is a viable solution, even as a face-saving measure. JT's public campaigning against the club has ensured that.
Zouma's injury prognosis is officially six months, but, really, it will be most likely 2-4x times that before he's himself again ... if he's ever truly himself again. That means we need be taking action and planning for transfers, replacing both the legendary captain and, at least temporarily, the kid who looked ready to entrench himself in the Chelsea backline for many years to come.
Chelsea can ill-afford another write-off of a season next year; Christensen's not due back until 2017 (if he ever does come back); Zouma's out for most 2016 at least; JT's gone; Cahill is Cahill; Cahill-Ivanovic sounds like a disaster in the making; Miazga may be the real deal, he may not. Should be an interesting summer, to say the least.