It says something for Chelsea's ruthlessness that Andre Villas-Boas is the eighth manager John Terry has worked under. Of the men who might now be England captain, Steven Gerrard, who made his Premier League debut in the same year, 1998, as Terry, has had half that number. Rio Ferdinand, who started his professional career two years earlier, has had three.
And yet as he began another pre-season training session beneath the skies of south-east Asia, Terry argued that not only had Roman Abramovich not taken a risk appointing a 33-year-old, Villas-Boas would remain at Stamford Bridge for the long term.
"No its not a brave decision," he said. "They knew him in the first place because he was on Jose Mourinho's staff. In his role under Jose, we knew the kind of detail he went into with players in training sessions. The club already had an insight into what he could achieve.
"When he was here before, a lot of us bounced ideas off him when we were talking about certain players. He was the guy that travelled the world looking at footballers, so he was the one to go to. We were very impressed with his knowledge then."
Terry, like those who had come across Villas-Boas in the corridors of the training ground at Cobham, wondered how he would fare when he became a manager. In the event he took Porto to a treble last season without losing a game in the Portuguese league.
"It was incredible and that's why he fully deserves his chance," he said. "Not enough chances are given to young managers and how do we expect them to get the experience if they are not given the chance? Our owner has given him the chance. Now it is up to us to deliver as a group of players." In that last sentence was the admission that Villas-Boas is leading the Chelsea squad through Asia because the players did not deliver last season, especially between November and January when Manchester United seized an advantage they could scarcely have hoped for when the season was two months old.
"There were some players last season who a few people thought would be out the door," said Terry. "But they have been given a fresh start until he [Villas-Boas] decides otherwise."
According to sources in France yesterday, Nicolas Anelka, who had been expected to move on at the age of 32, has rejected offers from New York Red Bulls and the Middle East and intends to remain in London.
"He has not judged anyone from last season and now he will watch us in every training session and at every game," said Terry. "He knows the players from his time here before. His positional sense and his attention to detail pre-game is impressive and he is very much like Mourinho in taking things from one training session to another."
Terry has made little secret of his desire to coach once his career is done, especially if that keeps him at Stamford Bridge. When his current contract expires, he will be the same age, 33, that Villas-Boas is now. Does that inspire him?
"It's incredible," Terry replied. "You do set yourself targets but I'm certainly envisaging him being in charge for a long time. We have spoken about managers coming and going, but I'm certain he will be around for a long time.
"In Carlo Ancelotti's first season we thought we had that stability, but it just goes to show the thoughts and ideas of the club. It's up to us as a group of players to achieve and the manager to get us ready for that."Reuse content