Mourinho Defends Terry Substitution

Jose Mourinho has defended his decision to substitute John Terry at half time of Chelsea’s game against Manchester City at The Etihad this weekend; a game that the Londoners went on to lose 3-0.

34 year old Terry, the Chelsea club captain, has not been substituted in the previous 176 games he played under Jose Mourinho’s management. Yet he was replaced by youngster Kurt Zouma at the interval with the team having been outplayed by the hosts and finding themselves 1-0 down.

After the match Mourinho confirmed that Terry was not removed from the action due to an injury, but rather because of a tactical decision by the manager. He said, “It was clear to me Zouma has to play”. Mourinho felt that City were dominating in Chelsea’s half and that he had to bring on his fastest player in order to play the high line he wanted to play to keep the Manchester team away from his team’s final third.

Mourinho was somewhat prickly in the aftermath of the game, suggesting to journalists that he wasn’t the manager they should be questioning about Terry’s removal. In what was a bizarre and slight non-sequitur of a reply the Chelsea manager said, “I don’t know if you asked questions to Rafa Benitez, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, to the ones that never played him. I’m the one you shouldn’t ask because I’m the one that plays with John in every game. I made John captain. I recovered John from a difficult situation with other managers”.

Yet Benitez did comment on John Terry when he was Chelsea manager, saying, “With his age, he has more experience and his understanding of the game will be better but you have people coming that will be faster and they will be stronger. But still he has a lot of ability and he can do well. But it will not be two games a week, carrying on playing, because [he has] more competition”. Owing to his long-term animosity towards Benitez it is no surprise that Mourinho has not acknowledged the Spaniard’s foresight regarding Terry. He might also point to the fact that the ex-England player played in every game of Chelsea’s title winning campaign last year.

Yet his removal of the captain in a game that Chelsea were being dominated in suggests that the self-proclaimed Special One feels the centre back may no longer be able to handle the pressure of what is an intense league.

Coming just a week after he made a scapegoat out of his doctor when the team struggled to get a result against Swansea at home, some feel that this is yet another distraction tactic from a manager who specialises in just that. In The Irish Independent the journalist Chris Bascombe wrote of the manager’s decision to remove Terry that, “it smacked of sending a message to his board about the urgent need for reinforcements”.