John Terry: England Captaincy Welcome News?

Everything pointed to Fabio Capello naming Rio Ferdinand permanent England captain today. He’s transformed himself into a player befitting captaincy both on and off the field, he seemed to be the preferred choice around the country (if you take out West London) and he was heavily tipped in the press.

I’d certainly leaned towards Rio being given the nod earlier this week and if I’m honest, with my England head on, it’s a decision I wouldn’t have argued. So, the announcement that Chelsea captain, John Terry, has retained the England captaincy came as a bit of a surprise.

I’ve already looked at what each player does well and maybe not so well and on balance, Rio came out the more favourable at this moment in time. Capello obviously didn’t agree but I’ve no doubt at least half the country will question his choice.

Obviously it’s hard not to be biased because I’ve always considered JT an excellent Chelsea captain, so from that stand-point it looks like the ideal appointment. JT as captain, Rio as a more than capable vice-captain and Stevie Me dropped from the captaincy set-up altogether. But, putting Chelsea aside for a minute, what sort of arguments does Terry’s appointment raise?

Well, some would say that two years ago, Terry was given the armband by Steve McClaren – a period of captaincy that ultimately ended in his failing to lead England to qualify for Euro 2008. So, is Capello taking a risk here or will JT be determined to make amends for that failure? On that subject, Terry states “I think I have learned from the disappointment of not qualifying that we have to concentrate on the early stages. This is another chance for me, it is an opportunity to captain a winning team. Let’s not talk about winning the World Cup. We just need to qualify. Our target has to be solely on qualifying for the World Cup. We have the squad to do it and we now have to show that on the pitch. It’s in our hands to do it”

And what of the questions around Terry’s inability to keep his emotions in check? Not even looking at discipline here, because personally I think the Chelsea captain had started to address this towards the end of last season and I’ve no doubt his profile (not to mention the new Chelsea boss) will dictate he continues to do so this season. But what about his tears in the face of defeat? I mean, personally I’d be exactly the same (and was) after something like the Champions League final, but then I’m hardly in the Terry Butcher mould. And whilst most of us at Chelsea took those scenes as a sign of his complete devastation at failing the club he loves, what does that say to his team-mates? After all, I’ve criticised players like Gallas on many occasions for not being there for his players in defeat as well as victory.

However, Terry would argue that his devastation following the Champions League defeat might actually have worked in his favour, particularly when it came to leading England to victory over the USA so soon after. Terry says “It showed my character to the manager. To bounce back the way I did after that huge disappointment showed what kind of person I am. Maybe that persuaded him.”

Well, whatever it was that swung it in his favour, Terry has said it means the world to him to have retained the captaincy. Following the announcement today, Terry said “To get the armband back is a huge achievement for me and makes me very proud once again. The manager called everyone together and told the squad as a whole. I was a little bit shocked. Rio has been in awesome form for Manchester United so for me to get the armband ahead of everyone in the squad is a massive achievement. I had heard little whispers that Rio had got it so I was shocked.”

I doubt he was the only one. And whilst he leads England out at Wembley in tomorrow’s friendly against the Czech Republic there’s very little doubt he’ll be a lot happier than half of the country he represents.



Why Chelsea Should Forget Robinho

If there’s one player at Chelsea who’s really grown on me over the past year or two, it’s Joe Cole. God knows he’s been asked to prove himself enough times while he’s been at Chelsea, not just overcoming but responding positively to a constant fight for his place as well as a public slagging off from one of his former managers. And yet here he is again, another manager, another fight to prove his worth. But does he whinge and whine like a bitch about it? Not Joe Cole, he just says he’s prepared to fight for a regular spot under yet another manager.

In fact, in spite of recent reports linking him to both Villa and Liverpool, and the unbelievable fact that a player of his quality has to constantly fight for a place, Joe Cole has stated his clear desire to spend the rest of his career at Stamford Bridge. But even better than that is the fact that the midfielder, who’s negotiations to extend his current two-year contract were put on hold by the club until next summer, has made it clear he won’t be holding Chelsea over a barrel when it comes to signing a new deal.

Unlike certain Chelsea players, Cole isn’t interested in dragging a deal out for a couple of years while he considers both his options and offers from elsewhere. For Joe Cole it’s all pretty straight forward really – he just wants to play for the club. Regarding any negotiations, Cole says “I just wanted to put the contract to bed. We wanted to get it sorted this year, but with new players coming and going there wasn’t time. I love it here, the club want to sign me and there won’t be any problems. I suggested that I concentrate on my performances this season because it’s not nice for the fans to have an ongoing thing, but I will be a Chelsea player for the rest of my career.”

Surprisingly, Cole didn’t feature that greatly during Chelsea’s pre-season and yet again doesn’t particularly look like figuring in the manager’s plans, with Scolari clearly keen to bring in Robinho. Not that Joe Cole let that put him off when he was given the opportunity at the weekend. After bagging Chelsea’s first goal at home to Pompey, Cole said “It was nice to score the first goal under Scolari. I was trying to play a bit further up because we have a lot of midfielders who like to play deep. We play five in midfield and I’m the one who likes to run in behind. Everyone worked for each other and we looked like a cohesive unit.”

And still, the resilient midfielder, who’s seen plenty of competition come and go during his five years at the club, is managing to deal with the possibility of yet another ‘replacement’ arriving in the form of Robinho, by again preparing himself to do battle for the honour of a place in the team.

Cole simply says “It’s a way of life at a big club. You come to Chelsea and you have to expect competition. I thrive on it. There are always big-name players at this club and I love competing with them and I love learning from then. It can only make me a better player.”

And it certainly has made him a better player – in fact, exactly the sort of player Chelsea should do everything in their power to keep at the club.

Will Deco Make The Difference At Chelsea?

Whilst I’m never one to get carried away and my pessimism might have been picked up on these pages once or twice, particularly when it comes to scrutinising our players, I like to think it’s healthy to be objective. I certainly don’t assume my opinion is the be all and end all, and that allows me to change it occasionally. Which brings me on to the subject of this article – Deco.

I’ll be honest, he’s never been a favourite of mine, in fact, whenever his name was connected with Chelsea in the past I’d usually welcome it with more than a few unsavoury words. Don’t get me wrong, I knew he was a good player, I just didn’t like the bloke. For a start, I always thought he was a diving little cheat and besides, by the time he was linked to us this summer, as far as I was concerned he was simply too old – why buy another 30 year old?

But what do I know? Because not only did he have a very good pre-season, but he also made enough of an impact during his first game in the Premier League to suggest the Portuguese Brazilian was a very shrewd buy.

After all, he wouldn’t be the first 30 year-old we’ve ever bought who’s had the ability to bring Chelsea’s football to life. A certain little Italian who’s skill in manipulating a ball made everyone sit up and watch, the flashes of genius with the quality to produce something special that saw home and away supporters alike applaud. Not that I’d be expecting the opposition to actually enjoy anything they see from Deco of course, because football just isn’t like that anymore and to be honest, if he wasn’t playing for Chelsea I doubt I’d be changing my mind about him either.

But he is at Chelsea and even on the evidence I’ve seen so far, I’m really starting to believe it’s a good thing. He just adds something that seems to have been missing for so long. We’ve got a good squad, with plenty of quality in it but Deco just seemed to bring that together. His vision and passing appeared effortless, picking out every run – to the obvious appreciation of his team-mates. And he slotted into the Chelsea side just as effortlessly, be it from his starting position wide or moving into the centre when required.

Credit to Scolari for giving him the freedom to roam because when he got hold of the ball, he inevitably kept it, looking comfortable in possession and with the end product of both creating and scoring – sublimely. Add to that the distinct absence of the amateur dramatics I’d always associated with him, and he was an absolute pleasure to watch. Not only that, but the £8million we paid for him was looking like a potential bargain by the time our Portuguese playmaker picked up the Man of the Match award on his Premier League debut.

And I’m sure there’ll be plenty who’ll question whether we’ll see the same sort of performances from Deco when he’s having lumps kicked out of him on a cold, wet night in December, that’s in the back of my mind as well if I’m honest. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the cold, wet nights in December to find out, but he certainly didn’t look like he’ll be pulling out of too many tackles to me. And I’m not naive enough not to realise he won’t always get as much space or time on the ball as he got against a pretty poor Portsmouth side, because I’m well aware there’s much, much better opposition than we faced on Sunday.

But whilst I still won’t let myself get too carried away because there’s a long way to go (and obviously I’m an eternal pessimist), for now at least, I’m just grateful the addition of Deco allowed me to really enjoy watching Chelsea again.