John Terry: Chelsea had to win at Hull for another ‘big answer’

Chelsea captain says Blues 'showed character' to eke passed Hull City

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The Independent Football

John Terry was taken back 10 days – and 10 years – as he contemplated the full meaning of Chelsea’s 3-2 victory  at Hull City on Sunday.

The win was both a response to exiting the Champions League and the home draw with Southampton that followed and a reminder. It brought back a memory of the night in February 2005 when Chelsea won 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers.

That was a decisive occasion on the way to Chelsea’s first league title for 50 years because, as Jose Mourinho said at the time, it was “a big answer” to those who had questioned the club’s ability to win in the north of England – the Manchester United manager at the time, Sir Alex Ferguson.

The game at Ewood Park was feisty and at its end Mourinho urged his players down to the travelling fans and ordered they remove their shirts and throw them to the crowd. The photographs became an emblem of that breakthrough season.

At the KC Stadium on Sunday there were no such scenes, but Terry stressed the importance of Loïc Rémy’s late winner. Asked if the Hull game felt like Blackburn a decade before, the Chelsea captain replied: “Yes. There was a different reaction – we were disappointed with the way we threw away the lead but at  the same time we showed great character.

“The importance of the win showed on the players’ faces and the manager’s afterwards. It was an important three points going into the international break. For everyone to dwell over that for two weeks was massive.”

The victory, after six draws and a defeat in their previous 12 games, restored Mourinho’s team’s six-point lead over Manchester City and crucially, according to Terry, offered potential chasers no encouragement.

“It’s exciting, with us playing on Sunday and watching the games on Saturday,” Terry added. “I was hoping they [Chelsea’s rivals] would slip up and we’d come here and win. So when everyone won on Saturday, we had to come here and win before the international break. It was huge.

“There is still an awful long way to go. We have Stoke at home and QPR away next, which is always a tough one for us. Hopefully, everyone will come back fit after the international break and go again. It’s important we get back to winning at Stamford Bridge because it’s something we haven’t done for a few weeks.”

Substitute Loic Remy scored Chelsea's winner

With a game in hand – away at Leicester City at the end of next month – Terry and Chelsea can afford to start looking at the calendar. There is a chance they could win their first Premier League title for five years with two games to go, which might be against Liverpool at home, a game scheduled for 9 May.

Mourinho’s subdued demeanour at Hull may have been due to Chelsea’s defensive mistakes, Diego Costa’s hamstrings – the striker underwent scans yesterday – or a lingering disappointment from losing to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

Terry referred to a squad meeting after the PSG exit. “Things were said by the manager and a few players spoke,” he said. “Sometimes they [the meetings] are good, sometimes they don’t work.

“The importance of it was to speak after the game, get it over with, everyone say their thoughts and feelings, which they did, and then it’s time to move on. There is no time to dwell on things.

“It was an open discussion, we went out and trained and that was the end of it. [In the Champions League] we obviously have to come back stronger and more experienced next year.”