Jose Mourinho warned John Terry over form a week before substitution
Chelsea manager Mourinho is believed to have been concerned with Terry’s form during pre-season and his performance in the 2-2 draw with Swansea, during which his side were cut open on a number of occasions.
Terry was no worse than the rest of the Chelsea defence in a poor first-half display at Eastlands, but it appears Mourinho acted on an accumulation of uncharacteristic displays from his captain.
Understandably, Terry was not pleased to be taken off at half-time against City but the 34-year-old hopes to retain his starting place for Sunday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion.
Having played every minute of every Premier League game in last season’s title success, Terry returned to pre-season training earlier than the rest of the squad – having also undertaken a personal tour of China in his role as ambassador of football culture in Guanghzou.
But Terry has not started this season at the same level he finished last and found it difficult to play in Mourinho’s higher defensive line he employed at times against Swansea. When the Portuguese switched to the same tactic for the second half against City, Terry was replaced by Kurt Zouma. It was the first time he had been substituted by Mourinho in 177 Premier League games.
Terry had also been substituted against Arsenal in the Community Shield, but it is his withdrawal at the weekend that raised questions over whether this will be his final season at Chelsea.
While Mourinho clearly wants John Stones and the City defeat underlined his need for owner Roman Abramovich and the board to spend big to land the Everton defender, it is far-fetched to believe the Chelsea manager would effectively throw such an important game to send a message.
While Mourinho attempts to bring in Stones to provide competition to Terry and Gary Cahill, the completion of left-back Baba Rahman’s signingcould put pressure on Branislav Ivanovic’s place.
Ivanovic has been poor in each of Chelsea’s first two games and Mourinho now has the option of bringing Rahman in on the left and switching Cesar Azpilicueta to the right side of defence.
There is a feeling inside Stamford Bridge, which Mourinho expressed last week, that the decision to allow the players to return a week later for pre-season training than most Premier League clubs has left Chelsea playing catch-up.
Players also complained of suffering from jet-lag in the days leading up to the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal, having returned from their US tour just four days before the Wembley game.
Chelsea and Mourinho must now hope that the squad feel the benefit of their extra time off over the course of the season, having looked tired at the end of the last campaign.
While Ivanovic admits he and his team-mates must improve quickly, he insists there is no panic over falling five points behind title rivals City at such an early stage of the season.
Asked if the five-point deficit to City is a worry, Ivanovic said: “I don’t think so. At the moment, it looks big after two games, but we just have to focus on our situation, ourselves instead and how we can improve.
“There is still a long way to go. Every game can be like a final and you have to be on top of your game all the time, to beat your opponent, improve yourself and get the points and I think we will start doing better.
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“It was a very difficult game and disappointing result for us, but this is done now and we can’t go back. This is the Premier League, every game is like a final and we know we have to look forward. We haven’t done well in the first two games, but there is another 36 to go and we know we have to improve ourselves.
“For sure we won’t give up after just two bad results. Every team is improving. We can be better and have to show that on the pitch.”