Can this man really fill the boots of Chelsea’s revered captain?

Since first signing for the Blues back in January 2012, Gary Cahill has enjoyed several strong seasons at Stamford Bridge, picking up a Champions League winners medal for his efforts, and successfully establishing himself as a nailed-on England international.

The 29-year-old centre-back hasn’t exactly received unanimous support for his recent exploits however. The former Bolton man seemingly has the ability to split opinion down at the Bridge, with some outlining him as one of the best in the country, but others seeing the defender as a liability and even going as far as labelling him ‘Calamity Cahill.’

While Gary Cahill himself, who has already achieved and experienced enough in the game to be considered a success, will surely brush off any critics that come his way, the not-so-distant retirement of John Terry will soon be approaching for Chelsea and the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Without the guidance and organisation of Mourinho’s beloved captain, an important question is raised as the spotlight falls on Chelsea’s no. 24 – will Gary Cahill step-up to the plate in the absence of John Terry, or will his career simply falter as a result?

So far in 2014/15, the Gary Cahill/John Terry partnership has seemingly worked wonders for Chelsea. They bring with them some truly tough tackling, resolute organisation at the back, and a brave preference to get their bodies in the way and block out the opposition at all costs.

However, Mourinho’s highly praised partnership may have seen their side rise to the top of the Premier League table with only 19 goals conceded so far this campaign, but when you look at Southampton and their even better defensive record, the furore that surrounds Gary Cahill and John Terry starts to slip ever so slightly.

Recent outings just haven’t produced the same performances from the former Bolton man in particular. Yes – he is currently first choice for both club and country, but as the recent display against Bradford City in the FA Cup clearly outlines, all is not quite as perfect as it may seem in West London.

Obviously one match is simply not enough to judge a player’s complete game and all-round ability on the pitch, but similar warning signs have in fact been present for Gary Cahill the whole time he has been a regular Chelsea and England starter. He just isn’t agile enough to be labelled one of the world’s top defenders – his lack of pace is often a worry, and while his strength and bravery in the air cannot really be argued with, Cahill’s footballing ability with the ball at his feet leaves a lot to be desired.

If Chelsea want to consider themselves one of Europe’s most valued gems and front runners to win the Champions League with every passing year, leaving Gary Cahill to fill the boots of John Terry when he retires just isn’t the perfect move. While many may disagree entirely on the matter, the former Bolton man needs to make the step up from a traditional English blocker, to a well-crafted defensive footballer who can be trusted with the ball.

Keeping clean sheets against Premier League strugglers may look impressive at this stage in the campaign, but Cahill’s real test has been in Europe against a class of team that is scarcely found in the domestic game. While one winners medal may seemingly put that argument to bed already, without John Terry on board to keep things tight, Chelsea’s £7million man may just find himself out of his depth in future Champions League outings.

Both defenders, regardless of the concerns over Gary Cahill and his long-term future with the Blues, have somewhat proved their worth for Mourinho however, and will certainly not be fazed by reports such as this one. It remains a common belief nevertheless, that while Cahill may be able to do a job for Chelsea in their current quest for more silverware, he’s simply no John Terry.