There is a line in Matt Law’s latest insider’s report in the Telegraph that, for many, will sum up Gary Cahill’s qualities as captain better than any feature-length dispatches from the Chelsea training ground, and better than any nostalgia-laden retrospectives made even more fonder by his absence from the team since November.
“Cahill, for his part, has kept his counsel on the subject and has continued to train with the first-team squad without demanding answers from Sarri.”
This man, who supposedly could provide the leadership that Chelsea are missing is apparently quietly accepting his fate of getting frozen out by the new man in charge, quietly keeping his head down, working hard, and just hoping things change for the better. He takes part in all the first-team training (so it’s not another Anelka, Alex, or Malouda situation) but in the dressing room, he apparently just sits quietly, letting others talk and waiting to be asked for his opinions. If he’s not talked to by Sarri, he does not demand answers, he probably just tries to make eye contact, which, as we know, is basically impossible with Shifty-eyes Maurizio, so nothing ever changes.
At one point, a comparison is made with John Terry, who was similarly unused by Antonio Conte in his first season at the Bridge, but was still the official captain and provided leadership in and out of the dressing room (which Conte talked about repeatedly). This is the same Terry who reportedly would smash up the place if Chelsea were losing at half-time, who literally wore a full kit even when he wasn’t playing.
“We were just so hungry [to win]. Did we take it a bit too far? Sometimes, yes, we had to. There were people fighting, grabbing round the neck, JT smashing the table and drinks. If we were losing a game you did not want to be in the dressing room.”
-Mikel John Obi; source: The Sun
Try not to laugh then as poor ol’ Gary “Dejected-faced God” Cahill’s tale of woe is told. (And let’s not even get into the part where Didier Drogba is briefly mentioned, who raged against the dying of the light like few others to ever wear the Chelsea shirt.)
Cahill, whose greatest qualification for being captain appears to be age and having won it all — so has Pedro, even more so, but that doesn’t make him anything more than a really nice person — has always been a model professional. That’s never been in doubt. He’s always given it his all and said all the right things. He’s won trophies on some of the biggest stages and cried tears of sadness on some of the smallest. He has a spotless record. He’s got tremendous biceps.
As someone who’s regularly in the mixed zone I have to disagree. In my experience Cahill stopped & spoke to us more than any other Chelsea player & it wasn’t close (regardless of the result)— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) February 15, 2019
His biggest crime for many as far as I can tell is not being John Terry ♂️ #cfc
Is he a good captain? He probably isn’t bad, per se, but from the outside looking in, he pales in comparison with those who had worn the armband before him. Maybe that perception is wrong. But if he’s truly that great of a leader, I’d expect him to do more than simply accept his fate. People have strong opinions about John Terry, good and bad, but the one thing no one could ever accuse him of was lacking self-belief and desire, of being quiet and simply fading away. The accepted narrative is that Conte “convinced” JT to stay for that one season purely for his leadership qualities. By contrast, we’ve been trying to get rid of Cahill since the summer.
None of this excuses Sarri’s behavior, but he’s under no obligation to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to. He’s a firm believer in all his methods, from tactical to man management and it’s up to the individual players to try to the change that if they can. Cahill appears to be taking it all lying down, so how could he be the missing piece of the leadership puzzle?