Belfast Telegraph

John Terry can recover, says Chelsea boss Villas-Boas

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

John Terry is "disappointed" to have lost the England captaincy, according to his club manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Yesterday was the second time that Terry has had the England armband removed, and while the Chelsea manager admitted how upset Terry was, he was confident in his own captain's mental resilience to recover.

"He was disappointed," said Villas-Boas, minutes after the Football Association announced their decision. "But John is a person of great mental strength and great personal convictions. He has to move on. He's been through a period like this before, when he was stripped of the captaincy, and came back to a level of great individual performances."

Villas-Boas said that he "did not agree" with the FA's decision. From Chelsea's perspective nothing has changed, and he stays as club captain. "We've made it clear," said Villas-Boas. "It's the club and manager's decision to support the player up to the moment of the court." While Villas-Boas said that he knew nothing about Terry's international future, Terry is thought to be very unhappy with how he has been treated.

Terry will not face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, due to a bruise on the bone of his knee. "It is always a blow to be without him," Villas-Boas said. "He is captain and leader on and off the pitch and he's a great player. We will miss him."

The sequence of events which led to Terry losing the England captaincy started in the 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road last October, and Villas-Boas identified that match as the "tipping point" in what is now a disappointing season. Chelsea had won six of their first eight games and, had they won at Queen's Park Rangers, they would have moved within three points of Manchester City. "The tipping point was the QPR game," Villas-Boas pointed out, "where from a position where we could have been second, three points behind the leader, we were six behind with too much controversy involved, and straight after to going nine points behind was what catapulted the situation."

With Chelsea now in fourth place, seven points behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, Villas-Boas concedes that his team have not improved over the course of the season:"The beginning of the season was our best sequence of results and best football."

If Chelsea fail to catch Tottenham, it would be their worst Premier League finish under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. Villas-Boas was confident that next season Chelsea would be closer to the level expected of them. "I didn't want to be allowed a transitional period," he said. "At this level you shouldn't be allowed a transitional year. But the project for next year is good and we will be able to compete at a different level."

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