For over 13 years and 578 matches, Chelsea didn’t have to worry about it. John Terry was there. He was the ultimate captain — he could inspire, he could berate, he could marshal his troops and he could also play a bit. He was the unquestioned leader, hated by outsiders and loved by insiders. He was, and is, Mr. Chelsea.
When he left last summer, he left behind a massive void. Although Gary Cahill did an admirable job of filling in, his time appears to be over too. And so the search has begun anew.
So seriously does Maurizio Sarri take the business of naming a captain that he’s kept putting it off. The front runners are thought to be Eden Hazard (who captained Belgium in the World Cup and appeared to be motivated by it) and César Azpilicueta. If they are, Sarri isn’t saying. In the interim, Azpi has been handling the job and will again on Saturday against Bournemouth.
Frankly, during matches Jorginho, who knows the system better than any other player, has been tireless in directing his teammates on where to be and where to pass. But he doesn’t have the seniority and he hasn’t built the relationships that a captain needs.
Sarri maintains he needs more time to talk to his players, to see how they interacted with their teammates and to decide who he’d feel comfortable with.
Until Friday’s pre-match presser, he wouldn’t commit to when he would make an announcement, either. Now he has.
“Nothing is decided at the moment, I want to decide during the international break for the final one.”
So in two weeks Sarri will finally appoint his first permanent Chelsea captain. After the international break this position, highly rated in football, less so in other sports*, will be filled.
And Chelsea will be one step closer to assuming their final form.
*Some team sports don’t have captains at all. Some team sports have captains who are more symbolic than actual drivers of the team. But football is different. With its two 45-minutes halves of more-or-less uninterrupted action, the coach is limited in what he can do. So there’s a need for a strong on-pitch leader to organize, motivate and castigate the team, someone to be a coach in the thick of the action.