Jose Mourinho has made John Terry his latest scapegoat
John Terry became the latest scapegoat for Chelsea’s faltering start to their title defence after being substituted in the heavy defeat to Manchester City.
While City were rampant in the 3-0 win, Chelsea’s dysfunctional week deteriorated with Mourinho’s decision to remove his captain at half-time emblematic of his team’s problems.
It is the first time Terry has been subbed under Mourinho, his 177th game under the Portuguese manager. Coming so soon after the controversy regarding club doctor Eva Carneiro’s demotion from first team duties, it has been an unsatisfactory opening fortnight for the champions.
Mourinho insisted the decision to replace Terry with Kurt Zouma was solely tactical, but it smacked of sending a message to his board about the urgent need for reinforcements. At 34, Terry can no longer expect to feature in every game as he did so consistently and triumphantly last season.
“I don’t know if you asked this question to Benitez or Roberto Di Matteo who never played him,” said Mourinho, when quizzed on Terry’s exclusion in the second half.
“I am the one who plays him every game, and recovered him in difficult moments with others managers. I am the one who has the right to look at the game and say I want Zouma on the pitch. When I am losing 1-0 and trying to anticipate what I am going to do it is clear to me Zouma is going to play and I have to bring one out. I take off my captain but he still my captain and the armband is just an armband.
“I have to decide Zouma for John because he is the fastest we have. When you are playing a high block and asking your defence to play nearer the midfield you need your fastest player.
“The point was not to take Terry off but put Zouma on. I want my fastest player on the pitch not on the bench because I know they are going to play counter attack. I have to. In the second half we brought the defensive line to midfield. We had more of the ball and they didn’t create anything.”
Terry looked a forlorn figure as he sat on the bench in the second half as City extended their lead.
“I can tell you he was not dancing in the dressing room and he was not having a bad reaction,” said Mourinho.
“He did what everyone does. This player comes in and this player goes out. They wait for the team to go out and then go back to the bench like he did.”
Within minutes of the defeat, Chelsea moved to strengthen their defence by signing Baba Rahman from Augsburg in a £21.7 million deal. It is expected they will make a fresh bid for Everton’s John Stones, particularly after Mourinho accused his side of being weak in a poor first half performance at The Etihad Stadium.
“We were fragile defensively,” he said.
“All we were talking about all week was movements and then after ten seconds Aguero is facing Begovic.”
Mourinho still claimed the final result flattered City.
“In the first half the best team was winning and in the second the best team was Chelsea and we didn’t score,” he said.
“In the second half everything changed and we had control of the game and created chances with lots of space in midfield and they couldn’t cope with that. I don’t analyse the opposite manager’s work but no-one will misunderstand me if I say we played well but he felt the result in danger. He made a controlled change for Nasri for Navas and a defensive change Demichelis for Sterling so at this moment everyone knows the 1-0 is a result they want to keep and are in trouble to keep. Their second goal is out of context but that is our mistake. We were punished for mistakes in the second and third goal.”
Mourinho also claimed Fernandinho should have been sent off for a red card on Diego Costa, and Yaya Toure for two bookable offences.
Manuel Pellegrini naturally saw the outcome differently, arguing City were rewarded for their early dominance.
“In the first half we deserved at least three goals,” said Pellegrini.
“It was more equal in the second half. Chelsea played better but I just remember Joe making one save at 3-0. Our team played better and three is the least we deserved.”
The quality of City’s performance has made them clear frontrunners in the early stages of the title race, but Pellegrini insisted it was too soon to reach conclusions.
“We’re not sending a message we are just trying to play the way we always do,” he said.
“Nothing is significant until the end of the season. The gap is important but we are just starting.”