Chelsea have cast out John Terry almost casually.
Their owner, the billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich, a few days earlier was reported, not for the first time, to have donated a multimillion pound yacht to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Denied, as before, by both parties.
For those who might see such a proceeding, if true, as smacking of sycophancy, it might be pertinent to recall the fate of the Russian multimillionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He stood strong against Putin politically, owner of colossal interests in Russian minerals. As a consequence he was twice put on trumped up trial, thrown into solitary confinement, and lost all his assets. Putin, in a word, does what he likes and satisfying him is arguably a matter of self-preservation.
You wonder, meanwhile, what part Abramovich has in the discarding of Terry. The buck after all stops with him, whose managerial word has always been law. The final word on Terry would clearly have been with him.
What we do know is that the whole matter has been insensitively handled. The decision to discard him was not in the first instance told to him but to his agents. Chelsea have at least announced that they will “keep the channels of dialogue open”. How big of them.
As a footballer Terry stands out as one of the dominant defenders of his time. At a club where it seems easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a Chelsea a junior to attain the first tea. At MK Dons in the FA Cup last weekend, Ruben Loftus-Cheek became the exception that proved the rule, being given a whole successful game. He has been a leading member of the talented youth team which wins tournament after tournament, while some 35, count them, Chelsea youngsters are out on loan. Terry, it should be noted, has never had any club other than Chelsea.
Off the field he could hardly have been called a role model, his long career being blemished by incidents off the pitch: and on one notorious occasion in Barcelona, when he suddenly and inexplicably clobbered an opponent from behind to be sent off and subsequently be suspended from the Champions League final.
As for the Anton Ferdinand affair which ended in curious controversy, it will be remembered that in criminal court, when accused of racially abusing the QPR centre-back, he protested his innocence, insisting that his abuse wasn’t directed at him. The magistrate did not indict him but the FA did, in dubious circumstances.
Until very recently they had functioned on the basis that any decision in a criminal court could not be gainsaid. This however was a stipulation now dismissed and Terry was now both fined and suspended from the England team. From which he now withdrew in disgust, to the undoubted detriment of the national team. Previously, before his case had even come to court, the then chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, had pre-empted the court’s decision by depriving him of the England captaincy. A decision which had scant basis in law or logic.
If he did not have real pace he had, and indeed still has, exceptional speed of thought, an outstanding positional player and a huge encouraging presence on the defenders around him.
Chelsea’s behaviour seems at best irrational and at worse callous. They have now signed a young American centre-back who could surely have benefited immensely from Terry’s tutelage. Meanwhile, Terry’s own affection for the club itself seems nobly unaffected.
What happens if Manchester City, managed by the now doomed Manuel Pellegrini, win every one of the four tournaments in which they are still involved?
It has long been an open secret that Pep Guardiola would be joining City next season (for the habitual three years), but for them to announce the fact just days after city had thrashed Aston Villa – even without Sergio Aguero – and marched into the next round of the FA Cup, seems a bit tactless.
Not that Pellegrini could be surprised. And after such successes it shouldn’t be hard for him to find another club.
Fifa’s presidential election now looms and who cares? Sheikh Salman of Bahrain and the Asian Confederation, who seems to be the favourite, has dismissed claims that he in Bahrain was involved in the maltreatment of dissidents, and that he had breached rules by signing a partnership with the African Confederation.
Switzerland’s Gianni Infantino has spent abundant Uefa money on his travelling campaign. But who wants Platini’s sidekick? Or any of them