Believe it or not, John Terry was a player I was once an admirer of. I knew that he’d turned us down in favour of Chelsea when he was lad, despite his dad bringing him up a United fan, but kids do stupid things, eh?
Lots of people seemed to see Terry like I did though, which probably contributed to his downfall. He was never the best defender but he was always one of the most dedicated. But people talked him up, myself included, this ‘British Bulldog’, and it went to his head. I can only imagine how much Jose Mourinho pumped his ego, given all the Chelsea players still walk around like Billy Big Balls, thinking it’s totally acceptable for them to behave however they like.
April 16th 2007
Terry: “I am Chelsea, through and through – I want to stay for life, I love the club, love the players, love the manager, Roman – and I want everyone around me when I do stay.”
May 1st 2007
Terry: “I’d certainly like to manage one day. When we were speaking about my contract with Chelsea we were talking about a nine-year contract maybe with an option to manage at the end of it. That is certainly the way I want to go.”
February 29th 2008
Terry: “I really can’t see myself leaving and I signed a new contract earlier in the season. I love the club, and I’m so passionate about Chelsea. I just want Chelsea to succeed. I like to think I know what the fans go through on a weekly basis. I don’t just come in, train and go home and forget about things, I take it home with me. I am fortunate to be in the position I am at an amazing club like Chelsea, and to enjoy the things that come with being a professional footballer. I have been here on £45 per week and worked my way through to being where I am today. I appreciate everything and work hard every day.”
May 24th 2008
Terry: “I am so sorry for missing the penalty and denying you the fans, my team-mates, family and friends the chance to become European champions. Many people have told me I don’t need to say that but I feel I need to, that’s just me. I have relived that moment every minute since it happened. I have only slept a few hours and wake up every time hoping it’s all been a bad dream. I have had some amazing support from fans, current and ex-players, family and friends and I need to thank everyone for that. But I am a big man and I take responsibility for us not winning. I am and always will be Chelsea through and through. I will give my all on and off the pitch to win this trophy as a player and one day as a manager. And I am sure we will win it. That night in Moscow will haunt me forever and I feel I have let everybody down and this hurts me more than anything. I am not ashamed about crying. This is a trophy I have tried so hard year after year to win and it was just an uncontrollable reaction, I wear my heart on my sleeve, everybody knows that.”
December 13th 2008
Wilkins: “If I was to pick one at the club to surpass Zola in the future, I’d say John Terry because he epitomises what we’re about. He’s professional and he’s a one-club player. I would imagine in 10 years’ time when they have their next poll, John will probably be the one that will sit at the top of the pile.”
February 15th 2009
Terry: “Chelsea told me what had happened with the enquiry as a courtesy. I was very happy with their reaction as mine would have been the same. I have always said that I want to end my career at the club which I love and we all see no reason why that cannot happen. Given recent events I am more determined than ever to make Chelsea successful again.”
Kenyon: “We made it very clear that John was not for sale. We did not entertain any further conversation on the subject and nor will we in the future. John is our captain and the captain of England. He is part of the heart and soul of Chelsea.”
Wilkins: “There must be some very wealthy clubs out there if you think John Terry is leaving. I would not think John will be going anywhere. He adores Chelsea, his family live in the area and he has everything he desires at Chelsea. I would expect him to start with us next season. That is an absolute certainty.”
July 4th 2009.
Terry: “Next season we need to make sure we start a lot better than we did last year and really push for the Premier League because I would love to win that trophy again, as well as being back in the mix for the Champions League.”
Silence. Two bids came in for Terry and he said nothing. There were plenty of opportunities, like press conference for the release of their new kit or the press conference before they went to the States on pre-season, but Terry didn’t say a word. The fans kept telling themselves that he wasn’t going but as every week went by they had to wonder why he wasn’t just putting the rumours straight.
When he was accused of spitting at Carlos Tevez in the European Cup final, he spoke to the press immediately. When Didier Drogba shouted that it was a “fucking disgrace!” in to camera which was beaming pictures all around the world, Terry immediately spoke to the press in defence. “I am fully behind Didier Drogba for the way he reacted,” Terry bizarrely said. What kind of captain is fully behind a player abusing the referee and swearing in to a Sky Sports camera? No wonder the Chelsea players behave as they do with a captain backing all their apalling behaviour!
So, it’s not as if Terry is camera shy or doesn’t like the sound of his own voice. Every time Chelsea get a new manager, Terry goes on and on about how brilliant they will be and what a positive impact they’ve had on the club, and when they get sacked, he insists they had his full support. So if he can defend his good name when came to Tevez, back his players, wax lyrical about every new manager, why did take so long for him to reasure the fans he supposedly loves so much? Could it possibly be because he was giving a move to City a second thought? Course not! This is Mr. Chelsea we’re talking about here!
“I said I wanted reassurances about people like Ashley – who was brilliant last year – him and Frank were our best players last year. He has two years left on his current deal and I want players like that around me, I want these players staying at Chelsea Football Club and I am sure the fans feel exactly the same.”
Hold on, so Terry couldn’t tell the press and fans he wanted to stay until he knew that Lampard and Cole were staying? This attitude doesn’t quite fit with the “I am Chelsea, through and through – I want to stay for life, I love the club”, does it? He wants to stay for life… as long as Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole stay too?
“I have been at the club 14 years and it is strange because it is the first time in my career that someone has come in for me, and the speculation surrounding it is a bit strange as everyone expects you to come out and respond to things instantly, which I had done a couple of times last year when City came in for me. I just felt I would do this in my time, in Chelsea’s time and do things when it was right for us but I am very pleased with how things have gone.”
Terry states what we all know. He has been silent for a month. He has ‘done this is his own time’. But he doesn’t explain why. Why did he have to do this in his own time and keep quiet? Because his head was turned by City? No, of course not!
“I just wanted reassurances that key players around me like Ashley and Didier, who are in contract talks at the moment, are going to be staying and that was a key factor for me, so I am pleased about these players and the ambition at the club is in the right direction and where I want to be,” Terry repeated.
Now whilst I think City are pretty delusional, they’re not complete idiots. There have been dropping bids for players all over Europe since last September and haven’t had too much luck with the bigger names. Robinho is the only player who stands out and he thought he had signed for Chelsea. But they’re not mugs. They don’t keep bidding for the same players over and over once they’ve been told no. So someone at some point has given City hope in signing Terry. The fact that Terry kept his gob shut for a whole months all but confirms it was a possibility. If Terry can’t explain why he needed to stay quiet for so long and cites the future’s of Lampard and Cole as reason why he was unsure of his own future, the picture paints itself.
We can look at Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, with a total of 50 years in the first team, and even longer a part of our club, it is clear none of them would behave like this.
“I have been offered a one-year extension to my current deal but I turned it down,” said Giggs as a 30-year-old. “I was hoping for a longer deal. I want to end my career at Manchester United and asked them to reconsider.” So the club came back with a two year offer on a decreased salary and he accepted.
Chelsea clearly have a more appealing wage structure for players over 30 than we do, with Lampard putting pen to paper on a 5-year-deal last summer, so there should be no financial worries for Terry, surely? Well, whilst Chelsea offer much more lucrative contracts than United, City now dwarf Chelsea in what they’re prepared to offer.
Rio Ferdinand stalled on a contract a few years back and was booed by our fans. Those at FC United still sing about it. Whilst I’d argue most United fans have forgiven (if not forgotten) after the years have gone by, but there are still some who don’t have time for him. He’s a cockney ex-Leedscum captain and even with our lower expectations of him, we still expected better behaviour from him.
Some Chelsea fans have expected better from Terry but they are in the minority. The general consensus is that as long as he’s staying, it doesn’t matter that he’s flirted with City over the past few months. It’s a sad reflection on what football fans find acceptable.
But United fans aren’t perfect where this issue is concerned, believe it or not, thanks to our feelings towards Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, the lifelong United fan.
Ronaldo’s mention only needs to be brief because he was no “United through and through” type player, but his disgraceful behaviour in the press last summer and his poor attitude on the field was tolerated by so many, simply because he was so good. I wasn’t one of these fans and whenever I criticised him there were plenty of fans telling me I was in the wrong. He had loads of support despite making it clear he wanted to leave the club, far more forcefully than Terry, who chose just to stay quiet whilst he considered an offer, instead of repeatedly talking to the press about his desire to leave.
As for Beckham, and I’ve covered this issue at length before so won’t go in to that much detail here, but it shows no group of fans are immune to following their hearts rather than their heads where their favourite players are concerned.
Before signing for Real Madrid but when clearly the talks had begun, Becks started making excuses for himself, which are long forgotten now by most.
“I’ve never said that I’d never move away from Manchester, and I’ve never said that I’d end my career there,” Beckham said less than a month before his move was finalised. Had Beckham stayed at United, would this comment have been forgiven? We can only speculate.
As it is, Beckham did leave, and since leaving has spoken of his love for United and our fans repeatedly. It’s easy to forget the cloud under which he left and it’s easier to pass the buck to Ferguson. We love him regardless of any faults so we’ll blame him for Beckham leaving to allow us to love Beckham still. Truth is, I wouldn’t blame Ferguson for losing patience with Beckham, following his substandard performances, controlling wife, obsession with his ‘brand’ off the field and refusal to sign the contract we offered him. “It’s not the salary that’s a problem, it’s just the image rights that needed a little perking,” Beckham said five months before leaving.
So Terry will be greeted like the Prodigal Son, with a new contract on the way no doubt, regardless of what he claims, just as David Beckham is by United fans. There are a few rare players, like Paul Scholes’ whose wage isn’t the be all and end all, but it seems as though most others will always have a price, particularly if the wages are being paid by a top team in Europe. Whatever players claim about being “fans”, sadly most of them don’t see the game the same way we do, and whilst money remains as football’s god, we’ll see more “through and through” players messing their clubs and fans about.