The fixture pileup has been a great excuse for Rafa Benitez to rest John Terry. Chelsea have been playing almost 3 games a week for the last few weeks. Yet, it will be surprising to know that Terry made only his third league appearance in 2013 against Fulham. It is fair to say that Terry has fallen behind Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz in the pecking order.
Ivanovic and Luiz have been the preferred centre backs for Rafa Benitez.
It is extremely strange to see the captain of a team being rotated on a consistent basis. It would have been acceptable – given the number of matches – had a midfielder or a striker been rotated. It makes no sense whatsoever to rotate centre backs, as cover very less ground over the course of a match.
Therefore, John Terry’s absence seems to have little to do with fitness or being tired.
“I’m fit, I’m training every day and have been for the last three months, so I just want to set the record straight. There are no complaints. I’m available but, at the same time, if the manager chooses not to pick me, there is not a problem because I’m Chelsea through,” said Terry to the Independent.
One has to compare John Terry’s availability to the team under Rafa Benitez and Roberto di Matteo to understand the reasons for his absence from the first team.
When Roberto di Matteo was appointed as the interim Chelsea manager, Terry – who was diagnosed with a serious injury for several weeks – made an extremely quick return back into the first-team for the match against Napoli. The rest, as they say, is history.
Terry was once again absent from first-team action when Benitez was appointed, but he did not make a similar return this time around. Benitez may feel that he did not get enough support from his captain at a time when he was being vehemently crucified by the Chelsea fans.
Terry has managed to force his way when he has not had a great relationship with previous managers. This time, though, it is different because Benitez is aware that he will leave the club – no matter what – at the end of the season. Further, being found guilty of racism has also slightly decreased Terry’s influence at the club.
Despite this, Terry still remains as one of the best defenders in the world. It will only be a matter of time before our ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ returns to regular first team action.