Stamford Bridge is falling down, and Terry’s responsible

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It took John Terry over 24 hours to think of a response to Craig Bellamy’s dismissal of the Chelsea captain as “someone I won’t waste my time talking about.”

“People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” was Terry’s ultimate, withering rebuttal to the Manchester City forward – presumably a second draft from “it takes one to know one” – but it wasn’t the weakest of performances from a Chelsea player over the weekend, there were 11 worse on the Stamford Bridge pitch on Saturday.

The Terry affair has consumed Chelsea. Throw in Ashley Cole’s high-profile problems too and you have a full-blown crisis. The Blues have lost three of their last five games, and Carlo Ancelotti – a man who wouldn’t have signed up as manager last summer just to mediate in couples therapy for half of his back four – suddenly finds himself with a multitude of problems to deal with.

It was as though Wayne Bridge had hypnotised Terry with the refusal to accept his hand pre-kick off on Saturday. The officials had changed protocol to avoid a potentially explosive meeting between the pair. It was City’s players who went down the Chelsea line as opposed to the usual system of the home side ‘welcoming’ the away team. This allowed Bridge to remain on the move when he turned down Terry’s hand, and Chelsea – who so often respond to their captain’s leadership and inspirational skills – appeared to shrink with their skipper’s embarrassment.

Not that City shouldn’t be credited for what was a fine win. Roberto Mancini outwitted his Italian counterpart Ancelotti. The twin threats of Bellamy and Carlos Tevez exposed the lack of pace in Chelsea’s centre-back positions, and the lack of talent in their full-back ones. City’s dynamic duo each scored twice and ran the hosts ragged. Chelsea had both Juliano Belletti and Michael Ballack sent off, and their squad – once so strong and healthy – suddenly looks a little threadbare. Their bench housed the likes of Ross Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira, Nemanja Matic and Daniel Sturridge on Saturday.

The Blues are a point ahead of Manchester United with 10 matches remaining in the Premier League season, but a quick turnaround in form is required if they are to prolong or extend that advantage. In their final three away games of the campaign, Chelsea face trips to Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and Anfield, and the way things are going they might need to gain nine points from those tough matches.

Terry has only got himself to blame for the personal problems and issues that are blighting his game, but it is when they start to infect the performances of his team-mates that the alarm bells should start ringing.

In most other seasons this dip in form could be fatal for any title hopes, but such is the unpredictability of this campaign that Chelsea can still turn it around. Ancelotti is working as hard as he can to do that, but there is only so much that he can do.

Terry is often lauded for his captaincy skills during the good times, but captains have to be strong-willed, determined and disciplined on and off the pitch. In short, they need to continually command respect.

It’s time for John Terry to lead by example. Chelsea need him to.



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