Ten years on from the most successful period in their history, Chelsea Football Club are now in the process of building a side to dominate once again. In the 2004-05 season, when Jose Mourinho started his first stint at Stamford Bridge, he was quick to the wring the changes. Out went club legends like Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and Marcel Desailly and in came young and fresh talent like Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben. That side went on to win the Premier League for two consecutive seasons, both with over 90 points, along with consistently getting to the latter stages of the Champions League.
That group of players also formed the spine at the club until last season. Petr Cech, John Terry and Frank Lampard were all regulars in the side. Ashley Cole as well, signed in 2007 and a major part of Chelsea’s success, was still very much going strong. This summer though, Mourinho made big changes again. Lampard and Cole were allowed to leave, while Cech has been replaced by Thibaut Courtois in goal. Didier Drogba may have been re-signed on a one-year deal but he is very much a fringe player.
There is a huge transformation that has come about in the team. Amidst all that though, there has been one constant.
Better with age:
John Terry signed for Chelsea at the age of 14, and never looked back since. The Englishman made his debut in 1998 as a 17 year-old, before establishing himself as a regular under Claudio Ranieri. Mourinho made him permanent skipper in 2004, and since then, he has been a mainstay.
Today, at 34, Terry is as good as ever. The former England captain has arguably been the Blues’ best defender this season and even at a time when several people have written him off, he has continued to defy the odds and put in consistently solid performances. His goal against Stoke City on Monday, his third of the season, set the tone for a comfortable evening in what was expected to be a tricky fixture for Chelsea.
Despite all the new players that have come in, there is no doubt about the fact that Terry is still the leader. Exactly ten seasons after lifting his first piece of silverware with Chelsea, he is once again leading the charge with this new crop. He remains the no.1 in the dressing room and Mourinho’s undying trust in him is exemplified by the fact that he plays every game. His fitness levels are as good as ever and there are no signs that he will be stopping any time soon.
So then, why the doubt over a new contract?
Over the last few seasons, the club has had a policy of not offering an extension of more than one year to players over the age of 30. Terry’s future at the club was in question last season as well, but he was offered a one-year contract.
The centre-back has made it clear that he wants to stay at Chelsea.
“I feel as though I still have an awful lot to give to the team and the club and long may that continue.
“When you get to 29 or 30, people are saying a player is past his prime. But to be honest, I don’t feel any different to when I was 27 or 28.
“The way players look after themselves these days is important and I have benefited from that. I am feeling great.
“I am feeling great at the moment. We are at Christmas and we are rolling on to the next season. I am feeling good so there is no reason why I have to look at that situation yet.
“Maybe over the years we have seen players go on a little bit too long. It is important to go out at the top, but that time is not here yet.”
Terry’s situation at Chelsea is slightly different to anyone else. The likes of Lampard, Drogba and Cech were bought from other clubs and then became legends at Stamford Bridge. Terry, on the other hand, came through the ranks at Harlington and made it into the first XI. His affinity for the club and for its fans are, therefore, at a completely different level. There is no doubt about the fact that he should be offered a new contract at the end of the season.
He was, metaphorically, born a Chelsea man, and the club should make sure that dies a Chelsea man too.