Controversy continues to follow John Terry, yet the Chelsea captain will finish the season leading his team out at Wembley at the FA Cup final on what could be the day the club clinches the Double.
Terry faced Villa on Saturday just hours after his father Ted, 55, had been charged with dealing cocaine from the toilets of a wine bar in Essex. The problems continued after the game when Villa manager Martin O'Neill reacted with fury over the Chelsea captain's foul on James Milner. Milner's team-mates were also incensed. John Carew, the Villa striker, said of the challenge: "I saw it from close range and it was a really, really, dangerous tackle. If he had hit the leg and it had been planted on the ground he would have broken it."
Terry was booked for the challenge and believes that should be the end of the matter. O'Neill spoke of his hope that Milner will receive some kind of apology, but that would appear to be forlorn. In a season in which he has been stripped of the England captaincy for his off-field behaviour, Terry is anticipating what could be a glorious finale.
Three weeks ago there was a serious danger that English football's most volatile club might implode after their meek exit to Jose Mourinho's Internazionale in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Roman Abramovich ordered a crisis meeting but the subsequent 1-1 draw at Blackburn left Chelsea four points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United, albeit with a game in hand. Yet following that draw at Ewood Park, Chelsea have embarked on a run of four straight victories, including Saturday's 3-0 triumph over Aston Villa to claim a place in next month's FA Cup final. A potential Double is looming.
Terry said: "A few weeks ago it didn't look as if we were in the running for anything, really. But we have turned it round and are playing well. We've been top of the league by a good few points at times and let it slip. We're back there again now."
Terry said the club and management met after the Blackburn game to discuss where they had been going wrong in recent weeks: "We had a couple [of meetings]. We knew we were disappointing [at Blackburn] and didn't really show the fight. We had a get-together. I spoke along with Lamps [Frank Lampard] and the other big characters we've got here, people like Bally [Michael Ballack], Petr Cech, players who are worth their weight in gold at a bad time. Everyone spoke their mind, we got a few things off our chests and we went again. "
Chelsea's revival has eased the pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti, who had been out-thought by Mourinho three weeks ago. Terry said: "At times when things are not going well you look at the manager to make big decisions, whether it be in the games or before the games, and he's made them this year. He's taken a bit of stick, but the lads have always been fully behind him."
That has not always been the case at Chelsea in recent years. The strength of the Chelsea dressing room did for Luiz Felipe Scolari last season, when senior players openly criticised the Brazilian's training methods. Ancelotti has far greater experience of club management after eight years at Milan and, under the Italian's smart guidance, Chelsea's star performers have focused their energies on results rather than recriminations.
Terry said: "The lads stuck together. It was a tough time and we came out the other end and we're there, in the Cup Final and top of the league again. Once again it's in our hands."Reuse content