Jose Mourinho has claimed that the reason John Terry is still playing top level football with Chelsea is simple: Jose Mourinho.
The Chelsea skipper is now 34 and, unlike his ex-teammate Frank Lampard or Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, he has played every minute of Chelsea’s title-winning league campaign. It is the fourth Premier League title he has lifted as Chelsea skipper.
Mourinho said, “I think he knows that, without me, he probably wouldn’t be at Chelsea in this moment”. The manager’s defensive style has no doubt helped Terry, with the team sitting much deeper and playing with a far more defensive mind set than under some of the managers that Chelsea tried to replace the self-proclaimed Special One with.
Before his return to the Bridge, whilst he was watching from the outside in, Mourinho admitted that he wasn’t sure Terry had much longer left in him as an elite level footballer. He said, “I thought he was in trouble. I thought he was over. He hadn’t played for the previous two years, two or three consecutive matches. I thought there was something wrong and that he couldn’t get back to his normal level”.
Unusually for the Portuguese manager it wasn’t all a case of arrogance. He was quick to praise Terry’s professional and accept that if the ex-England captain hadn’t been there then Chelsea may not have won the title. He said, “I always thought he was going to improve and I’d have a good player. But, in the end, he came to a fantastic level. He’s had a magnificent season…I also know that, probably without him, I would not be again Premier League champion”.
Terry struggled to earn a regular starting spot under Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez when they were in charge of the Stamford Bridge club, and he was very much on the back foot when André Villas-Boas tried to introduce a high defensive line during his ill-fated time in charge of the West London club.
Mourinho summed up the problems with the previous gaffers at the club, saying, “Probably with another manager he wouldn’t play. And without playing he wouldn’t have another contract”.
Another contract he has received, however, with the club rewarding his excellent form with an extension that keeps Terry tied down until the end of the 2015-2016 season. With the emergence of youngsters like Kurt Zouma in the Chelsea backline, Terry’s extension will allow him to not only play on for another season, but also to guide Chelsea’s more youthful defenders in the ways of Premier League.