John Terry has drawn encouragement from Roman Abramovich’s willingness to appoint André Villas-Boas as Chelsea’s manager at the age of only 33, a move that has fuelled the England captain’s own ambitions to make the transition from playing to coaching at Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea stalwart has been impressed by the early impressions made by Villas-Boas, formerly José Mourinho’s opposition scout, since he became Abramovich’s seventh manager in eight years. Yet Terry was honest enough to admit that an experienced squad that had underachieved so poorly under Carlo Ancelotti last season must now prove their pedigree once again if this club is finally to achieve stability in the dugout.
“Appointing [Villas-Boas] was not a brave decision, but a very good decision,” Terry said. “We have spoken about managers coming and going, but I’m certain he will be around for a long time. In Carlo’s first season [when the side claimed a league and cup double] we thought we had that stability, but it just goes to show the thoughts and ideas of the club. It’s up to us as a group of players to achieve and the manager to get us ready for that.
“We had some great times before, but all that has gone now. We don’t dwell on what we have achieved and settle for that. But, in his role before, the players respected him anyway. He was the guy that travelled the world looking at players and we were very impressed with his knowledge even then. What he has achieved away from Chelsea has been incredible. He fully deserves this chance. Not enough chances are given to young managers, and how do we expect them to get the experience if not given the chance? Thankfully our owner has given him an opportunity.”
Terry has made no secret of his desire to go into management, preferably at the club he has served since he was 14, once he stops playing, and he has three years to run on his deal at Stamford Bridge. He will be the same age as Villas-Boas, 33, when that contract expires and, as he continues to study for his own coaching badges in his spare time, already contemplates what the future might hold.
“You do set yourself targets,” he said. “I’m certainly envisaging André being in charge for a long time, but I’ve got three years left on my deal and I will be 33 then. Obviously that’s my overall aim: to become manager. It’s great for current players as well, looking at this, and the fact that Roberto Di Matteo has come back in as well, and seeing that players who have been around the club and know it inside out are being given chances.
“There are a lot of [young] people out there with an enormous amount of talent. André certainly proved that at Porto and fully deserves his chance at Chelsea. He can bring in fresh ideas and give everyone a chance. There were some players last season who a few people thought would be out the door, but they get a fresh start — until he decides not.”
Fernando Torres, the £50-million record signing who mustered a solitary goal in 18 games after joining from Liverpool in January, will be anxious to prove his worth, but has still to be partnered alongside Didier Drogba in attack.
Villas-Boas oversaw a training session in front of 10 000 fans at the national stadium in Kuala Lumpur this week and experimented with a front two, but Drogba was partnered alternately by Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda, and Torres by Daniel Sturridge and Nicolas Anelka. The veteran France international has expressed his desire to remain at the club for the final year of his contract despite inquiries from Major League Soccer and Paris Saint-Germain. —