There is something fitting about the tragic end to John Terry’s career. The red card at Sunderland last weekend means that the Chelsea captain is likely to bow out without playing another minute for the club after a competitive, but foolish, tackle saw him dismissed. An icon for the great success at Chelsea over the last decade, Terry has finally reached the end of his time for the Blues. There suggestions of fan-led protests about ‘letting’ the captain leave – walk-outs, banners – but it seems a naive way to look at things.
Whether Terry wants to leave Chelsea or not, his agent will be the one pulling the strings. We are sure to find out more details of his departure once he leaves, but it’s not as simplistic as the club not offering him a contract, nor about Terry demanding money. The Chelsea talisman has been creaking this season and he would simply not be first choice if he were to remain at Stamford Bridge next season.
Would he really accept taking a backwards step? Well, he probably believes he can still play, for a start. Not being a regular would mean a cut in wages and a cut in wages means a loss of a lot of money for his agent and his ‘team’.
This whole negotiation is not simply about Terry chatting with the board. People who are interpreting it like that are overlooking the layers of representatives in modern football and various clauses that will be in or out of contracts. This is not about whether Terry loves Chelsea or not, it’s not even about whether the club want to keep him.
A player of Terry’s age – and declining ability – causes problems for a club. In the era of financial fair play and squad quotas it is challenging to justify the inclusion of a veteran player on sky-high wages. Would Terry accept a substantial pay-cut? Perhaps. Would his agent accept losing a chunk of his Terry-based income? Not a chance. There is more to this than the romantic fan would like to see.
Terry clearly still believes he has a place in the team at the highest-level, but his collapse in form during this campaign suggests otherwise. His presence around the squad and club is still invaluable – the fans adore him – but that is not enough to justify his cringeworthy wage packet.
All of this is a sad side-affect of modern football. However, we do not know – and maybe never will – Terry’s role in the dressing room. The number of times that Chelsea managers have ‘lost the players’ suggests a fundamental issue within the club and Terry is one of the few constants. Was Terry pivotal in the downfall of Mourinho this season? Not necessarily intentionally, but is Terry, as a leading figure at the club, guilty for disrupting squad harmony? We cannot possibly know, yet this is just another potential factor in the club’s bosses not seeming as keen to keep their most experienced player as you may expect.
A Premier League great and Chelsea to his core, John Terry will always be an icon at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have stuck by their captain when many other clubs would have looked to move him on. Perhaps all of his previous misdemeanours and reputation as a villain in the press have finally caught up with the former England captain.