Whatever happens in the future, whether we end up like Leeds or simply can’t hack it at the top once Sir Alex Ferguson leaves, whether Roman Abramovich hires all the best coaches in the World or spends £100s of millions on the greatest players to ensure superiority in England and Europe, John Terry will always be a source of much amusement to Manchester United fans.
As John Terry stepped up to take what should have been Chelsea’s final penalty, I could already see him lifting the European Cup, with the blue and white streamers erupting in the background. Of all the players to win Chelsea the European Cup, did it have to be him? ‘Mr Chelsea’, as Frank Lampard calls him, who turned United down as a lad, and who the press have been in love with, this apparent ‘English lion’, would have left living in this country unbearable if he’d buried the penalty.
Fortunately, he slipped, just as Van der Sar did in the first half of the match, which had allowed Frank Lampard to get the equaliser. The ball came back off the post and Terry sat on the grass, in the pouring rain, knowing he might have just lost his club the European Cup. He certainly hadn’t won it for them anyway!
John Terry has had a pop at United in a week where Chelsea lost another penalty shoot out in Moscow, this time with, who we can happily describe as the biggest flop in Premiership history, Andriy Shevchenko, seeing his attempt saved.
Following Fergie’s claims that Chelsea were too old to get any better, John Terry reckons this United side were at its peak last season, whilst his side still have the ability to improve. Barking? You bet!
“Manchester United had had two good years,” he said. “You have to stand back and take your hat off to them but we know we were good last year and we have another level to go to. I think we saw the very best of Man United last year, we have got improvements to make, but I think Man United are at their peak.”
Now, I know footballers aren’t renowned for being the sharpest tools in the box, but what on earth is Terry talking about here? Obviously, he’s just saying what the supporters want to hear, but he could at least be somewhat honest with his fans, rather than spouting bollocks.
How on earth could that United team of last season be at their very best? If you look at the stats and consider our three highest scorers last season had an average age of less than 23-years-old, whereas Chelsea’s three highest scorers had an average age of over 30-years-old, then what kindof lunacy is it to suggest our side has peaked?
If the age of the goalscorers doesn’t do it for you, then look at who it was providing those goals. At United, the average age of the top four players with the highest assists is again less than 23-years-old. In contrast, the top four at Chelsea carry an average age of 27-years-old.
The typical age for players to peak is said to be mid-to-late 20s. If we look at the winners of the FIFA World Player of the Year, we can see the best player in the World has been 30 or above on just 2 occasions in the past 15 years, and the average age of the winners is 26.6-years-old. It’s not a science, but it gives us a rough idea of when players tend to peak in this modern era of football.
United’s most effective players (in terms of goal scoring and goal providing) have yet to hit their peak, whereas Chelsea’s already have.
Now, this isn’t to say Chelsea won’t give us a good run for our money next season. They pushed it very close in both the league and European Cup, and that was with an incompetent manager at the healm. Scolari, despite his non-existant European domestic experience, should get more out of the players than Avram Grant did.
However, the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack will be a year further away from their peak, whilst the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo will be a year closer to theirs.
For Terry to suggest that Chelsea have more room to improve than United do is either entirely ignorant, stupid, or nonsense talk for the fans.
Regardless, Viva John Terry!