Friday 23 March 2018

Guus Hiddink defends John Terry treatment

John Terry will miss Chelsea's final two fixtures of the season against Liverpool and Leicester due to suspension
John Terry will miss Chelsea's final two fixtures of the season against Liverpool and Leicester due to suspension

Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink has denied the expected departure of club captain John Terry has been treated badly.

Hiddink reckons Terry deserves a public farewell if he is leaving this summer, but Chelsea's hierarchy are still to declare whether the defender will stay or go after 703 appearances since his debut in October 1998.

Terry is out of contract at the end of this season and in January said he would not be extending his stay.

Chelsea insisted an offer may be forthcoming, but there has been no news on his future ahead of Wednesday's match at Liverpool and the final game of the season on Sunday, at home to Premier League champions Leicester.

"There's time," Hiddink said.

"People who are making the decisions want to take their time. That's up to them.

"That doesn't mean there's dramatic, bad treatment so far, but everyone has his own approach to deal with this matter."

Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were among the distinguished players who departed Stamford Bridge without a goodbye.

And some supporters are planning to protest at the likely departure of 'Captain, Leader, Legend' Terry at the final two games of a disappointing season.

"Whatever will happen, whether he stays, whether he goes - in the last option, he deserves a huge goodbye," Hiddink added.

"(But) it's never goodbye with those players, because I think in the near future, whatever happens, those players, after a period of going away and calming down, they can have a big impact in clubs."

Terry had not anticipated the campaign ending in suspension and a finish of ninth place in the Premier League, at best.

He made potentially his last appearance for Chelsea in last Saturday's 3-2 loss at Sunderland, when he was sent off for the second time this season.

The 35-year-old will serve a two-game ban.

He is not the only Chelsea squad member whose season has ended prematurely.

Striker Diego Costa is out with a hamstring injury - "Costa is out probably for the weekend," Hiddink said - and defender Branislav Ivanovic has a groin problem.

Winger Pedro suffered a broken nose in a domestic fall and could play with a protective mask at Anfield.

Hiddink could look at Chelsea's future by including youth team striker Tammy Abraham and defender Fikayo Tomori in the matchday squad.

It remains to be seen if Terry will be around to see the next generation come through, as Chelsea hope they will.

Hiddink, whose second caretaker spell ends on Sunday, reckons Terry could continue playing at the highest level, but the decision rests with Chelsea's board and incoming head coach Antonio Conte.

"When I make a judgement on how he plays and his fitness on his age, he's able to play, he's able to continue," Hiddink said.

"Where? What the near future is is up to the club, it's not for me to make declarations on that."

Terry, whose previous sending-off this season came at West Brom in August, has missed some memorable moments with Chelsea through suspension, including the 2012 Champions League final win.

Reports recently suggested Terry had hired Stamford Bridge for a private party.

He has been linked with a move to China, the Middle East and Major League Soccer, but given his reluctance to face Chelsea and their absence from Europe next season, he could also move to another European club.

"He will follow his heart, I think," Hiddink said.

Terry has been training this week, despite not being available for selection, and was planning to train again on Wednesday.

"He likes to train," Hiddink added.

Even if Chelsea beat Liverpool and Claudio Ranieri's Foxes, last season's champions can finish no better than ninth. They could finish as low as 13th.

Hiddink won the FA Cup and lost one league game during his first interim spell in 2009 and the second has been less successful following his December arrival in place of the sacked Jose Mourinho.

Hiddink said: "When I talk about big words of disaster I think of bigger things in the world.

"But, okay, when we go into our closed football world, you might call it a football disaster, because Chelsea must be always at the top, as they are used to, and even better than that, always fighting for silverware."

Press Association

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