Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has explained why he chose not to call time on his ageing captain and centre-back John Terry despite shipping-on fellow senior squad members in favour of younger legs.
It has been a summer of major change at Stamford Bridge Long-serving fan favourites have departed on the expiry of their contracts including midfielder Frank Lampard, who at 36 had become a ‘legend’ in the eyes of supporters following 13 years’ hard graft and commitment for the team; along with left-back Ashley Cole, 33, who had served the Blues tirelessly for eight years and become (arguably) the best British left-back of recent years.
The third Chelsea ‘old boy’ to run his long-term contract is captain and defender John Terry. But, unlike Lampard and Cole, the 34-year-old is still wanted by Mourinho and will lead Chelsea into the 2014/2015 season.
That aside, the Blues skipper – who is entering his 20th year with Chelsea and 11th as captain – cannot afford to rest on his laurels, having been granted just a one-year contract extension.
Terry has been warned, straight from the horse’s mouth, that he has to concentrate on his performances as his status alone is not enough to keep him in favour with the straight-talking Portuguese coach.
“The contract John got was only based on performances, not his status or his captaincy, just performances,” Mourinho told Chelsea’s official website.
“We think this way of (giving older players) one-year contracts is a very good way of dealing with these kind of players.
“John knows me and he knows the club. He just has to be worried about performing.”
The Chelsea gaffer praised his loyal centre-back for his efforts last season and commended his determination to play through injuries.
“I don’t remember a better season than the one he just had. That’s the point,” he said. “Last season John had one minor injury. He played basically every match, and at a very high level.
“When you have a player able to perform during the whole season it’s because you believe that the next season he can do the same.”
The defensive stalwart played 34 of Chelsea’s 38 Premier League fixtures last season and led the team in 11 of 12 Champions League fixtures too.
The writing was on the wall for fellow Londoner Frank Lampard however when he was dropped from the starting 11 on several occasions in the latter half of the season. He made just 20 Premier League starts in 38 matches and he was left on the bench against top sides including Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Cole must have also known he was on his way out, having appeared to have fallen out of favour since the start of the season. For the most-part, Mourinho opted to play a right-back (25-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta), in Cole’s left-back position. The former England international made just 15 starts of 38 in Chelsea’s Premier League run.