Just when you thought John Terry couldn’t sink any lower in football fans’ estimations…
With David Luiz out injured, Gary Cahill limping out of the action and Barcelona swarming all over the Chelsea rearguard, the west Londoners desperately needed a performance from their lion-hearted leader. What they got was a cowardly and unnecessary assault, a fully-deserved red card and Jose Boswinga filling in at centre back.
It was the latest in a long line of unsavoury and controversial incidents involving the deposed England captain, but the first which looked likely to cost his team on the pitch: for all the allegations of affairs, profiteering and racism, Terry has seldom abdicated his duties on the pitch.
Thankfully, his teammates rose admirably to the challenge of holding Messi, Xavi and Iniesta at bay. Petr Cech performed heroically, Didier Drogba worked his self into the ground and Frank Lampard worked intelligently with and without the ball. Chelsea’s star performer, however, was the energetic Ramires. The Brazilian played all over the pitch, defended diligently, broke forward whenever the opportunity arose and gave Chelsea hope with a deliciously chipped goal.
Sadly, the little livewire will miss the final thanks to the yellow card he picked up at Camp Nou. The same totting-up procedure will also ensure the absence of Raul Mereiles and Branislav Ivanovic. It’s a disciplinary procedure which UEFA ought to look long and hard at if it wants to ensure the competitions showpiece final parades the best available players, but that aside, it’s John Terry who’s ultimately responsible for the unavailability of those players in Munich.
Barcelona’s possession game is difficult enough to play with when there are eleven players on the pitch. Terry’s needless red card made it even harder, made sure that more tackles needed to be made, made sure that at times desperate challenges led to bookings. If Terry had remained on the pitch would all three of his colleagues have been cautioned? Probably not.
Whilst John Terry refuses to accept responsibility for his own actions (confirming both his cowardice and stupidity in the face of the evidence), Frank Lampard toed the party line in his post-match press conference by publicly supporting his captain and claiming not to have seen the incident. Hopefully behind the scenes he will give Terry the dressing down he deserves and Mereiles, Ramires and Ivanovic will cold-shoulder the man who denied them the opportunity to play in the biggest game of their lives
For English football’s sake it would be wonderful to see Chelsea win the Champions League – if only for the satisfaction of seeing the reprehensible John Terry watching from the sidelines in his suit.