John Terry: A Resurrection of Form, Restoration of Faith and Resolution of Tactics.

Updated: June 6, 2014

Chelsea boasted the best defensive record in the Premier League this season. This has been first time they have conceded the least goals in the Premier League since Chelsea finished second behind Manchester United in 2006/7 campaign (Chelsea had the joint best defence in 2008/9 and 2010/11 with Manchester United and Machester City respectively). It doesn’t take the memory of an elephant to remember who was in charge at Stamford Bridge that season. Ashley Cole, John Terry and Petr Cech still remain from that defence – which begs the question: why has it taken so long to resurrect the defensive qualities that have accompanied Chelsea in the Abramovic era? It is probably unfair to discredit Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti considering their successive, yet somewhat short lived, reigns. Although it is in the previous two seasons (excluding 14th March 2012 to 19th May 2012 – look up the dates if you have to) the Chelsea trait of defensive stability and resilience was so dreadfully lost. The popular consensus in the media for Chelsea’s defensive frailty correlated to an ageing squad. John Terry, the heart and soul of Chelsea, was the scapegoat in the media, his loss of pace the supposed reason for his and the defence’s loss of form.

This season, despite having legs two years older, Terry has been a stalwart in the Chelsea defence and has led them within touching distance of a fourth Premier League and a second Champions League title. Terry is more reserved, but yet more assured than in previous campaigns, and many believe he has not shown this sort of form since Chelsea won the double in 2010.

In Chelsea’s double winning season Ancelotti tapped in to his days in the youth academy, where Terry played in centre midfield, and converted him in to a ball playing centre back. In 09/10 he completed five dribbles from nine attempts where he was required to drive forward with the full back pushed on like wingers and a midfielder able to fill in. Missing only one game in the league, Chelsea conceded only 0.81 goals per game in a season that included 17 clean sheets – not forgetting the attacking prowess of 103 goals that season. In contrast in 2011/12 under Ancelotti’s successor, Andre Villas-Boas, Terry was playing in an even more expansive system and his midfield attributes needed again, he was dribbling less (2/3 successful dribbles) but that was because of the high linInterceptions in a seasone AVB insisted on – Terry’s starting position was high therefore he had less space to dribble in to. The infamous AVB high line decreased his defensive stability, Terry making a defensive error every 558 minutes, 94 minutes more frequent than in 09/10. On top of that he made 68 interceptions, 27 less than under Ancelotti something a high defensive line based system would necessitate. In 31 games in the 11/12 season Chelsea conceded 1.16 goals per game keeping just 9 clean sheets. AVB desire to further Terry’s ball playing centre back qualities in to the modern defender similar to Mascherano, Javi Martinez or even David Luiz of today was the downfall of any form. A subtle, yet destructive, change in system from the Ancelotti era and the increased risk in system resulted in Terry’s worst ever season in a blue shirt.

In 2012/13 Terry’s season was stunted by injury throughout, starting only 11 games in the Premier League, and hence his form was never restored. Many Benitez-bashing Chelsea fans would argue had Terry played more when he was fit, Chelsea would have challenged champions Manchester United rather than competing for Champions League qualification but that remains to be seen. Rafa Benitez’s system was not the most resolute, not that it ever has been under teams he has managed but the constant disruption of centre backs was just as damaging to the defensive structure.

John Terry’s resurrection of form may be resultant of a restoration of faith from

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Jose Mourinho. Either way, seven years on from his previous reign Mourinho has harnessed Terry back to the best of his ability, an ability he was quick to publicly support upon returning to the club. Terry still possesses the awareness, positioning and defensive instinct that made him one of the greatest centre backs in the world for a decade. And instead of tapping in to his experience as a midfielder in the academy, Mourinho has wisely chosen to utilise the qualities that defines Terry and vice versa. This season he has been deployed in a much deeper defensive line, full backs included, and as a result has made just two errors at 1485 minutes per error – that’s one error every 16 and a half games and a major reason only 0.76 goals are conceded per game.

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In addition to tactics, it is the stability of his centre back partner Gary Cahill who has rejuvenated the Chelsea captain’s form. Cahill and David Luiz were rotated at the start of the season as Mourinho trialled Terry’s best partner. Since securing his place in the side, Cahill has not disappointed. In the 28 games he has featured, Chelsea has conceded just 0.68 goals per game and has kept 15 clean sheets. Astonishingly he is yet to make one defensive error. Sinterceptions partnershipo far Terry and Cahill have made only 68 interceptions between them, the same amount Terry made, on his own under, AVB. In contrast to the systems of Ancelotti and Villas-Boas, Mourinho’s deeper centre backs means there is less space in behind and therefore less chance for interceptions; a much more sound defensive unit. Ricardo Carvalho was the last consistent partner of Terry’s; a partnership which both understood and one which complimented each other. In Cahill, it seems Terry has found a similar partner and Mourinho has replaced the void left by Carvalho.

Terry’s contract was up at the end of the season, but thankfully the club have given him a one-year extension. The departures of Cole and Lamprard, who have arguably deserved a new contract themselves emphasises the importance of captain Terry. For many last summer it seemed he would be most likely to leave at the end of his contract, but the club have renewed it for reason’s summed up through the following cliché: form is temporary, class is permanent.


  1. link vao dafabet

    July 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM

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  2. Kelvin

    August 1, 2014 at 12:10 AM

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  3. Rob Baney

    August 1, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Thanks for the feedback Kelvin,


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