Despite being dropped by Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese’s last season in charge of Roman Abramovich’s club and despite retiring from international duty, John Terry very much remains Mr Chelsea. The former England centre back made the decision to prolong his club career, like many before him have done, and with Antonio Conte now in charge, and with their Russian owner’s ambitions to place the club back on top of the Premier League very clear, Terry’s presence and experience has perhaps never been more vital.
That’s become even clearer due to the struggles that his side have experienced in defence this season. Centre back was a position that Conte was desperate to add quality to this past summer, and in the end, he was forced to settle with resigning David Luiz on a deadline day transfer from Paris Saint Germain barely two years after Mourinho had sold him to the French club. The Brazilian is a hugely popular figure at Stamford Bridge, and adored by the fans, but there was a feeling that the Italian manager was having to settle for Luiz having missed out on his preferred targets.
That makes Terry’s presence all the more important, and ahead of Mourinho’s return to the club as manager of Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, there appears to be some confusion as to whether the centre back will feature at all. The Times published an exclusive article just after midnight on Friday morning suggesting that Terry would not be available for this weekend’s clash with an ankle injury. However, just to contradict the so-called ‘exclusive’, Conte has confirmed during his Friday press conference that the club’s captain is, in fact, available:
“John Terry is in good shape,” Conte said as per quotes on the club’s official site. “He solved the problem with his ankle. This week he trained very well and he’s available for the game.”
Goodness knows where The Times got their information from, but it appears they were misinformed, at best, given the clarify that the Chelsea manager has spoken with on the subject. Either way, Terry’s presence will be welcome boost for his manager and his team ahead of what is sure to be a charged, intense and difficult fixture. Conte had this to say when it came to Mourinho making his return to Chelsea as United Manager:
“He deserves a good reception. When you win three championships you remain in the heart of the fans, that’s normal. Then, after the whistle, he becomes like the players of Manchester United, an enemy. I have great respect for him. He’s a great manager, he has won a lot in his career and I think he deserves maximum respect.”