Terry claims United have reached their peak

John Terry has never been averse to the odd rallying cry and another was issued yesterday with the claim that Manchester United had reached their peak last season while Chelsea were capable of improving – and would do so this campaign.

"I don't think they have got another level to go to," the Chelsea captain said of the League champions and European Cup holders whose manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has chipped away at their main rivals all summer. "They've had a lot of players in their team who have hit the peak of their form in the last two years. Rio's been awesome. Ronaldo's been unbelievable. I don't think we'll ever see that again. Rooney, Tevez, Giggs at his age – they've all been fantastic."

Losing the Premier League title by just two points, and the Champions League Final to a penalty shoot-out showed, Terry said, that Chelsea are very close to United despite "injuries and changes of manager" and, what he referred to, as "stuff at our place".

That "stuff" included one of the most fractious and chaotic seasons imaginable at a club which, given its ownership and demands, is always going to be close to being a soap opera. Terry claimed the traumas had drawn the players closer together, revealing that, amid the upheavals of Jose Mourinho going, and Avram Grant's brief regime, the squad had often thrashed out their problems behind closed doors and between themselves. "We were a nearly team last year," he said. "We almost won the Carling Cup, almost won the Premiership, almost won the Champions League. We were very close, but at the end of the day weren't good enough."

With the arrival of Luiz Felipe Scolari, however, who has brought a "different mentality" and a more "relaxed" atmosphere there is real hope that matters have settled and aspirations can be fulfilled with Terry referring to the signing of Portuguese international Deco as "awesome". "I never actually realised how good Deco was – I played against him four or five times – but he's probably one of the best I've ever played against and trained with," Terry added. The signing, plus the arrival of Jose Bosingwa and the continued pressing for the capture of Robinho and/ or Kaka means that Chelsea can, as their captain put it, "raise the bar".

Terry was speaking at the launch of a Premier League campaign to show more respect to referees which includes having an open dialogue between captains and officials, removing monitors from team dug-outs to stop the haranguing of fourth officials, and clubs and players signing up to a behaviour charter.

Both Terry and Chelsea have had their difficulties with referees in the past – a fact acknowledged by the 27-year-old yesterday – which exploded with Ashley Cole's petulance towards referee Mike Riley, who was also part of the launch, in last season's meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

"I think it's unfair to pick one person or one club out because we've all committed it," Terry said. "I could show you 100 videos of different players and different clubs committing offences. We've seen the way we want to go: to stop the surrounding of the referees. There are now rules. Last year, was there or wasn't there a rule where you couldn't surround the referee? I couldn't tell you. Now there's a rule. You can't. It's the captain who has that responsibility to go and speak to the referee."

* Chelsea are close to agreeing a deal to allow their 24-year-old defender Branislav Ivanovic to go on a season-long loan to Milan, with a view to a permanent deal. The Serbian arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow in January for £9.7m and hasn't appeared for the first team.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones