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Old dog Gary Cahill still working hard to learn Sarri’s new tricks

Written off once again ... but we’ve been here before many times.

Chelsea v Olympique Lyonnais - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Gary Cahill, soon-to-be-deposed club captain, joined Chelsea six-and-a-half years ago. That makes him the longest-serving member of the first-team. And also the winningest member of the team.

That also means that he’s now been coached by seven different head coaches: Villas-Boas, Di Matteo, Benítez, Mourinho, Hiddink, Conte, and now, Sarri. We can add a few more to that list at international level with England: Capello, Hodgson, Allardyce, and Southgate. That’s a rather wide variety of football ideas, tactics, instructions to learn, absorb, and implement, and that’s before we consider all his coaches at Bolton or Villa, youth coaches and mentors, and any other sources of football development he may have been exposed to during his long and trophy-filled career.

And yet, after all those managers, Maurizio Sarri is still bringing something new to the table for Cahill. It’s very much a case of teaching an old dog some new tricks.

“There’s a new manager, we’re taking on some new ideas, a new philosophy definitely in shape and in the way he sees things. It’s time for us to learn again and adapt to that. To learn somebody else’s opinion on football, the way they want to play and how they want to do things is always slightly different, no matter who the manager is.”

“Wherever you’re experienced or not, it’s still a matter of getting your head down, working hard and getting fit when you come back for the start of the season.”

Cahill’s been here before many times of course. He’s been written off almost as many times as he’s lifted a trophy high above his head at Stamford Bridge or Wembley, the Amsterdam ArenA or the Allianz Arena. This particular occasion does seem to have a certain bit of finality to it, but we thought the same last year, when Cahill not only worked his way back into Conte’s starting lineups, but got himself a ticket to Russia for the World Cup with England.

Point is, Cahill’s seen it all, done it all, and knows that as long as he puts his own best self forward, he will be rewarded. If nothing else, that’s attitude and leadership that should provide an example for the younger, newer players to follow.

“There are a lot of top international players here, you saw a lot of them on show in the World Cup. There are many strong squads out there.”

“The Premier League is unbelievable at the minute, but we need to be competing at the top of the table. That’s the pressure that’s on this club, that’s the pressure that is on us as players and the manager. We are looking to see if we can deliver this season.”

-Gary Cahill; source: Chelsea FC

Cahill has one year left on his contract. It could be his final year at Chelsea. It probably will be his final year at Chelsea. He will be 33 by the time this season ends, and at some point, all good things come to an end. But perhaps he can go out on a final good note, maybe with a trophy, or just the knowledge that he’s helped lead Chelsea into a new era as one of the squad’s elder statesmen.

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