Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 November 2017

We love the trophies at Wemble but not the turf, says Terry

Mark Fleming

THE new Wembley is just the kind of home stadium Roman Abramovich craves for his Chelsea side, if only it were in SW6 rather than in HA9.

Geography aside, and in spite of the ongoing controversy concerning the parlous state of the once-hallowed pitch, Chelsea have made themselves at home in the new £757m national stadium.

They have now won three of the four FA Cup finals that have been contested at the revamped Wembley and have their eyes on another victory there – next season’s Champions League final.

Winning the league and FA Cup double represents the greatest seasonin Chelsea’s 105-year history but it is not enough, according to their captain.

John Terry believes the minimum target next season is to retain both trophies and then add some more. He said: “It is hard to set new targets but the minimum next year now is the Premier League and the FA Cup. If we can add the Champions League to that and the Carling Cup, it would be great.

But the minimum is the Premier League and the FA Cup. Everyone is saying that, including the manager. These are our trophies and we want to keep them. And the Champions League next year is here (at Wembley) – that would be a great way to end it.”

Terry implored the Football Association to act decisively to improve the condition of the turf as the latest pitch, the 12th to be laid since the venue reopened three years ago, was once again substandard. Terry said: “It probably ruined the game as a spectacle. The FA need to say either this is England’s football stadium or it’s an event stadium. We come back here with England and we want home advantage to count.”

The victory over Portsmouth did not come easily for Chelsea, whose goalkeeper Petr Cech saved a penalty from Kevin-Prince Boateng before Didier Drogba scored the game’s only goal.

Fortunately for Chelsea, Cech had done his homework on Boateng. Cech said: “I knew that Boateng likes to watch the goalie until the last moment and so I waited and forced him to make a decision and he decided the wrong way. I didn’t want to give him a chance. He is a clever player, so if I moved earlier then he would have the opportunity to beat me – so I waited and won the duel.

“Suddenly we got a lift and it was like a knockout punch for them when we scored. At that point we knew the game was over.”

Michael Ballack limped out of the game with suspected ankle ligament damage and the Germany captain is now a major doubt for the World Cup in four weeks’ time. He blamed referee Chris Foy for not stopping Portsmouth from kicking Chelsea earlier, before Boateng’s awful challenge ended the German’s participation.

Ballack said: “When they start putting in a few hard tackles and don’t get a yellow card they will carry on. There were a few tackles before on (Nicolas) Anelka and there was no yellow card.

There was another one by Michael Brown on (Frank) Lampard and from that you can see they just want to kick players. If you don’t give a yellow card you can’t stop them, so they carry on. Then this happens.”

Ballack and Joe Cole are both out of contract this summer and talks with Chelsea are due to resume this week. Ballack (33) said he wants his future decided before the World Cup starts. “There are no plans for talks yet but I want to play for as long as possible at the highest level. I feel fit and I have targets in my mind – maybe two years (more). But we have to wait and see,” he said.

“Chelsea is one of my first options, of course. I know he (Chelsea’s manager Carlo Ancelotti) wants to keep me. I have a great relationship with him and he is really confident in me and my ability. But sometimes the club and the coach can have different ideas, I don’t know. But it’s time to talk about it.”

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