Wednesday 28 September 2016

Comment: Good riddance to snarling bull-dog John Terry

Published 12/02/2016 | 21:09

John Terry, left, celebrates
John Terry, left, celebrates

As with sewage thundering into an overwhelmed cesspit, eventually John Terry’s stinking sense of entitlement had to overflow.

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It happened last week and few beyond the blue-robed devotees of that London church who regard the Englishman as some kind of deity were inclined to assist with mopping up the mess.

Rather, the impulse was to hold one’s nose and congratulate karma on finally catching up with football’s do-as-I-please poster-boy.

Last week, in an inglorious display of hubris, Terry signed his own Chelsea death warrant.

And — whatever you think of his substantial achievements as a player, his years of resolute one-club defiance — it was difficult to suppress the inclination to giggle.

Terry’s back catalogue of scandal and abomination makes him no more a magnet for public sympathy than, say, Donald Trump.

Manchester City's Wayne Bridge snubs Chelsea captain John Terry's
Manchester City's Wayne Bridge snubs Chelsea captain John Terry's

Like Trump, he was never inclined to pause on his march toward immense riches to examine who he might have trampled into the dirt.

He simply marched on, comforted by the certainty that his status as a Stamford Bridge untouchable would insulate him against recrimination.

From as far back as 2001, when he brazenly mocked Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, the signposts were erected pointing Terry to an end where he would be swamped by his own self-absorption.

In the meantime, there were racial slurs, the appropriation of wheelchair parking, an affair with a team-mate’s partner, his sacking as national captain...all amounting to a portfolio of ugly presumption.

There was, on the flip side of the balance sheet, so many towering instances of leadership when he stepped inside a rectangle of grass that it seemed Chelsea were willing to indulge any level of horror.

Terry was the rock upon which Jose Mourinho and all those other managers built their towering, if frequently vulgar cathedral; he was the defiant, unapologetic, all-conquering commander of brash, nouveauriche Stamford Bridge.

So, in the immoral football cosmos, where only winning, and the power and money which winning accrues, matter, Caesar remained beyond censure.

Essentially, Terry had license to give two fingers to the world, which he did with some relish.

John Terry leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court after he was cleared of racially abusing
Anton Ferdinand
John Terry leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court after he was cleared of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

On and on it went, the excrement of low standards cascading into the ever more fetid septic tank.

There were allegations that Terry, one of the most lavishly rewarded players on the planet, had demanded a ten grand cash payment in return for a tour of Chelsea’s training ground.

Those who deemed him a selfless commander-in-chief, ignored how, first, his betrayal of Wayne Bridge and, later, the allegations of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand (leading to fallout with the latter’s elder sibling, Rio) sundered English team spirit ahead of major tournaments.

So, who could feel pity when the 35-year-old’s game of contract brinkmanship with Roman Abramovich proved to be one of the more ill-advised lunges of his long, contradictory Chelsea career?

Leave to one side for a moment the debate — and it is inconclusive — about whether Terry merits a 12-month extension; after all, the rights and wrongs of any argument have never previ­ously been enough to detain the great man in his impatient, get-out-of-my-way swagger through life.

For many, the issue was more primal. It was about football’s snarling bulldog getting his comeuppance.

After so many years of stampeding indis­criminately about in the jackboots of the omnipotent, few beyond Chelsea mourned as destiny caught up with Terry, a fugi­tive from his own unpleasant past.

So accustomed to the world jumping the instant he clicks his fingers, the player went into a monumental sulk when his employers last week played deaf.

I want a new contract and I want it now, seemed to be the bark from the leader of a group of players whose on-field standards have gone into freefall.

Even as Terry fumed, he was powerless to prevent Chelsea — with the fifth worst defensive record in the Premier League — fall fully 21 points behind provincial, low-budget Leicester City.

So the powers-that-be at Stamford Bridge, the same people who had indulged Terry when his performances seemed to justify his large pot of gold, now unleashed their reptilian side.

Why, they reasonably wondered as they pondered Chelsea’s new status as specks on the Premier League horizon, should they be hurried into committing £1million-a-month to a player nearer 40 than 30.

And so, Terry was left to stew, an instinctive individual compelled to reflect, to ponder, at worst, outright rejection and, at best, a 12-month extension on reduced terms.

He went ballistic, morphed into schoolyard bully mode and allowed himself the monumental folly of issuing a statement saying he would leave the club at the end of the season.

Terry had made the irretrievable error of believing that he was as big as, if not bigger than, Chelsea.

The club refused to bow; instead, it was made known with a calm and cold eye that they had never closed the door, that they were assessing form, that a fresh contract for Terry remained possible.

Or, at least, it might have been had his sense of entitlement not persuaded him to lash out, to bite off his nose to spite his face.

Undoubtedly a competitive giant as Chelsea surged to power, the Englishman’s life is dimpled with examples of such thunderous arrogance.

Through his career he lit fires of controversy in the fashion of a contemptuous pyromaniac. Eventually he just had to get burned.

Eventually the sewage of entitlement had to engulf him. It did this week, reducing Chelsea’s bulldog to an impotent, whimpering, stinking, USA or China-bound mess.

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