Captain, Leader, Legend. It needs only those three words for people to instantly think of John Terry; the heart and soul of the Chelsea back-line for well over a decade.
Ricardo Carvalho, Alex, David Luiz, and William Gallas are all names that Terry has partnered with at centre-back, but also outdated. Still to this day he remains an integral part of the Chelsea line-up, starting alongside Gary Cahill last season to great effect with Chelsea conceding the least Premier League goals in the 2013-14 season.
Terry on his last legs?
However, while Terry has remained at his boyhood team, he has witnessed the departures of Lampard and Cole, now the return of Drogba whom looks only a shadow of his former self. 36, 33 and 36 respectively, all legends like Terry in their own right, but also all on the wrong side of their career peaks; is this a warning sign to Terry and Chelsea supporters alike?
Terry has yet the type of decline in careers that Cole, Lampard and Drogba have had, but the signs are showing. Year on year his pace has slowly started to drop, subtly, but this is mainly due to his strong positional awareness and tactical discipline, combined with the recovery pace that both Azpilicueta and Cahill possess. However, there will be a certain point where Terry’s ageing legs will start to prove a problem for him in defence, albeit endurance or strength wise.
Terry to go the same way as Ferdinand?
Let us look at the fall of Rio Ferdinand who was at the forefront of the Manchester United's Premier League winning side of 2012-13 where he enjoyed the accolade of being one of the finest centre-backs in the league that year, rising above the critics whom said he was past it.
Discipline, tactical nous and experience were all reasons given for his success that season. However, come to 2013-14 season and he was another player, making just 14 Premier League appearances, only half of what he had accomplished the season before; poor form plagued throughout the season, with the rest of the defensive unit suffering from a lack of form as well.
This lack of solidity from what used to be one of the most solid defences in the league was there for all to see; Ferdinand had lost his cover of what used to be Vidic and Evra, who were both world-class players at the peak of their career, they had formerly had great recovery pace to cover Ferdinand’s ageing legs, but they too were ageing at the same time. This led to runners in behind ravaging the United defence for the whole of that season, leading to the club's extremely poor finish of seventh.
Terry coming to the end
Now this relates to Terry, due to the striking similarities that the two club legends share for their respective teams, both are defenders whose main strengths lay in their reading of the game, but also whom at the peak of their careers had enough recovery pace to prevent teams simply launching balls over the defence.
They even played alongside each other for a few years at the heart of the English defence, but never quite clicked together. Why? Because they were simply too alike, almost carbon copies of the Gerrard-Lampard conundrum. Terry and Ferdinand were both world-class players, but together leaked too many goals when partnered together.
Ferdinand is a warning sign of what could happen to Terry in the future. While in his current form it doesn’t look likely to happen soon, but with every season that progresses Terry will be a step closer to following in Ferdinand’s footsteps