Saturday 20 January 2018

Terry revels in role of captain fantastic

Lampard 35, Terry 67

Sam Wallace

SOME of them were quite witty, most of them were plain abusive, but none of the chants that Stoke City’s supporters aimed at John Terry yesterday appeared to have the desired effect of unsettling the performance of the former England captain.

The stick, if that is the right word, that has been directed at Terry from the stands in the aftermath of the Wayne Bridge saga is probably the least of his worries but there is no doubt that yesterday he was subjected to the most sustained barrage yet. Just about the only one printable was “John Terry – are you my dad?” and you can imagine that it went downhill from there.

Say what you like about Terry, but the abuse just seems to bounce off him. When he scored Chelsea’s second goal, he rolled up the sleeve of his left arm, leaving just the captain’s armband around his bicep which he pointed to as he ran back towards the Stoke supporters in the Shed End.

Having been cruel before then, the Stoke fans descended into outright abuse of the man who was once England captain. This kind of stick is usually par for the course but the level of the abuse gave pause for thought. Stoke are the sort of Premier League club whose fans also follow the national team and if this was their considered opinion on Terry then perhaps there is more animosity to come from England supporters.

It was Terry’s first goal since he was stripped of the England captaincy and, the worse the abuse gets from the rest, the more they love him at Stamford Bridge. He left the pitch shirtless again yesterday having given it to a fan as he completed another mini lap of honour that included its fair share of chest thumping and kiss-blowing.

Terry will lead Chelsea into their ninth FA Cup semi-final in the last 17 years against Aston Villa next month and there was no doubt that they deserved it. The FA Cup holders gave a textbook display in negating the very obvious threat of Stoke that meant Henrique Hilario in the Chelsea goal was scarcely called upon to make a save in the second half.

Frank Lampard, who scored the first Chelsea goal, was also integral to the victory against the same Stoke team that eliminated Arsenal and Manchester City. Tony Pulis was without five first-team players and when he lost Glenn Whelan to injury just before half-time it was hard to see how the typical Stoke game plan would have any effect.

Rory Delap’s throw-ins were repelled by a Chelsea defence that did not look under any pressure other than on two occasions in the first 15 minutes. The first was Robert Huth’s header that was nodded on by Mamady Sidibe, just over the bar.

Dean Whitehead’s shot was kicked off the line by John Obi Mikel and from then on it was one-way traffic. There were few regrets from Pulis who accepted his side had finally run into a team who lived up to their billing as one of the strongest in the country.

“You have your chances, you’ve got to take them when you play the top teams,” Pulis said. “We’ve knocked Arsenal and Manchester City out. To pull Chelsea out of the hat at Stamford Bridge was a difficult tie. The players were first-class. We gave everything.”

Lampard’s goal came on 35 minutes as Chelsea’s pressure became too much. A corner was half-cleared by Stoke to Terry who teed up Lampard on the edge of the area. His shot went in having taken a slight deflection off Abdoulaye Faye.

For Joe Cole it was yet another afternoon of pacing the touchline waiting in vain for the nod from Carlo Ancelotti to get his opportunity. It never came. With the game effectively sealed with more than 20 minutes to play there would have been no harm in giving him a run-out. Cole could be forgiven for getting paranoid that his manager is taking his contract standoff personally.

In the absence of Ancelotti, Ray Wilkins explained that Cole would simply have to wait. “We have a superb squad of players and Carlo has a very difficult task in picking a side,” he said. “Everyone merits a place in our team, but that was the side. Joe’s had a very traumatic time with his knee, and you get highs and lows. He’ll play plenty of games for Chelsea, don’t you worry. I’ve no idea (about his contract), but that will be done towards the latter stages of the season.”

Terry headed the second goal – via a deflection off Andy Wilkinson – from Lampard’s corner in the 67th minute and that was it. Terry paraded his armband in front of the away end but it did not persuade them to shut up. He knows there will be plenty more of that abuse before the end of the season.

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Hilario; Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Ferreira; Mikel; Kalou, Lampard, Malouda; Drogba, Anelka. Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), J Cole, Deco, Sturridge, Matic, Kakuta, Van Aanholt.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Huth, Collins; Whitehead, Whelan (Pugh, 45), Delap, Tuncay (Lawrence, 61); Sidibe (Kitson, 61), Fuller. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Amdy Faye, Davies, Moult.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Chelsea Terry.

Man of the match: Lampard.

Attendance: 41,322.

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