Sunday 19 November 2017

'Focused' Terry will attempt to bridge the divide

Jason Burt

John Terry will attempt to shake Wayne Bridge's hand prior to Chelsea's clash with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge today but will not make any other conciliatory gesture towards him.

The Chelsea captain, according to friends, will "man up about the situation" and believes that the pair should observe the pre-match custom for Premier League matches -- although it is not obligatory -- of shaking hands with every member of the opposition. It's unlikely to happen.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has declared himself "fed up" with the attention over the affair, and Terry is believed to be annoyed at how it has been portrayed, pointing out to friends that the full story has not been told.

Terry has spoken briefly to Bridge on two occasions which -- together with Bridge's own reassurances -- had encouraged England general manager Franco Baldini to believe that the latter would make himself available for international football.

However, on Thursday Bridge issued a statement withdrawing from the England squad and the World Cup, although national manager Fabio Capello has stressed that "the door remains open" for him should he change his mind.

There are reasons, it is understood, why Terry has not formally apologised to Bridge for his conduct and the fact that he had an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, Bridge's former partner and the mother of his child. It has, undoubtedly, become an increasingly messy saga that is damaging the careers of both players and affecting Chelsea's season and England's World Cup preparations.

Frustration

Ancelotti showed his frustration during his pre-match press briefing yesterday, when he said at one stage that he would speak only in Italian if he continued to be asked questions about Terry and Bridge.

"It only flared up again because of you people," Ancelotti said, missing the point that Bridge had issued a public statement.

Earlier, he was asked whether he feared that Terry -- who performed erratically in the Champions League tie away to Inter Milan on Wednesday -- would be distracted.

"No, I think John Terry is a professional and he doesn't have a problem to look forward and stay focused on the match," replied Ancelotti. "He has a good mentality and will stay focused.

"He's the same John Terry. The same. He is professional."

Asked whether he was surprised at Bridge's decision, Ancelotti added: "I'm not surprised because it's his personal decision. I expected that decision. It's not my problem."

That may have sounded unduly harsh, given the personal nature of why Bridge has withdrawn but, in fairness, it had far more to do with how uncomfortable Ancelotti felt discussing the matter.

After all, he said: "I have never had anything like this (story) in Italy. I have never been interested what happens outside the pitch. It's never happened before."

He is paid well enough, however, to deal with such matters. Personal issues are as important as personnel issues in management, football or otherwise.

"I don't know how many people are interested in this," Ancelotti protested. "For sure, not the players."

So what has the mood been like in training? Is there any chance of lightness, so-called 'banter'?

"John Terry is still the same in training," insisted Ancelotti. "He knows when to joke and when to be professional."

Are there any jokes at his expense? "Never," Ancelotti shot back.

It was an awkward briefing, with the only relief coming when Ancelotti discussed the job Roberto Mancini -- an Italy team-mate of his at the 1990 World Cup and a coach he faced many times in Serie A -- has done at City.

"To go to a new team during the season is not easy," Ancelotti said. "He's trying to put his mentality into the squad. Up to now he did a good job and I hope he will do the best for Man City."

The general perception as to how Mancini has fared at Eastlands is not so charitable, however, with Ancelotti claiming it was a "good time" to play City.

Mancini is struggling and needs to gain a positive result to stabilise matters. Having on-field problems might come as a relief to Ancelotti at the moment -- though he will be hoping he doesn't find out today. (© Daily Telegraph)

Chelsea v Manchester City,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 12.45

Irish Independent

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