CHELSEA’S players – not manager Jose Mourinho – must take full responsibility for their poor start to the season, club captain John Terry said on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old defender, who has played nearly 700 matches for the Premier League champions, strongly echoed statements by his team mate, Cesc Fabregas, and Mourinho himself, denying any suggestion of a dressing-room revolt at the club.
But he also took the opportunity to hit back at TV pundit Robbie Savage’s criticism of his form – insisting he is not interested in the former Premier League midfielder’s opinion.
Instead of listening to Savage, who played for Crewe, Leicester, Birmingham, Blackburn, Derby and Wales, Terry says he is more than willing to take individual criticism from his former England team-mates and Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
“When players have not had a career, played at a really bad level… Robbie Savage being one. He’s dug me out a couple of times,” he said.
“You take it as a footballer, as an individual. I’ll take it from the Rios, Carraghers and Nevilles. All day long.
“From others? Nah.”
Savage has been a regular critic of Terry’s form this term, and in August, wrote in his Daily Mirror column: “Looking in the mirror and admitting you’re no longer the force of old is one of the hardest truths for top players to confront”.
Chelsea have won only three of their 11 Premier League matches, are 15th in the table, out of the Capital One (League) Cup that they won last season and are third out of four teams in their Champions League group.
A win or draw against Dynamo Kiev in their Group G match at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday would boost their chances of making the last 16 and Terry is confident the bad run will end sooner rather than later.
Speaking to the media at their training base at Cobham, south of London, Terry admitted had not reached the standards of last season.
“The players — and me personally — will stand up and say, ‘I’ve not been good enough’,” he said.
“Our performances haven’t been good and we take that on the shoulders. We realise where we are in the league and in our Champions League group and must do what we need to do to get out of it. That responsibility lies with us, not the manager.” Terry dismissed talk of any dressing-room unrest, ridiculing one widely reported claim that a Chelsea player said he would rather lose than play for Mourinho.
“I think what we have seen in the last two or three days are ridiculous stories with what is happening within the dressing room. In the whole of my football career I have never heard a player say them words, even if things were bad or very bad.
“I can assure you now the players are 100 per cent behind the manager.” Terry believes Chelsea’s form is improving.
“In the first part of the season it wasn’t good enough, but I think in the last four games we have been extremely unlucky not to come away with a couple of wins, and I am positive — I am sure — we are on the up and will turn things around. Not if we turn things around, we will turn it around.”
© 2015 Sky Sports | This article originally appeared on Sky Sports on 4 November 2015.