The caption “Captain Leader Legend” is entirely appropriate for its beneficiary: John George Terry.
However there are not many natural successors in our current ranks and it is for this reason I would like to make the case for Juan Mata as a candidate for this role in the future.
The word “Leader” for me is the one that resonates most at this moment in time.
Leaders are born, rarely made. Strip John of the Chelsea captaincy but he’d still be our leader. He can’t help himself.
Our cup overfloweth will talent at The Bridge. That is indisputable.
However, with Drogba gone, Lamps and Cole edging closer to the exit and John playing less, mainly due to age, as the seasons pass, who is stepping up to fill the leadership void?
This is not a rhetorical question but it is a serious one.
Remember, this is not a token Captain but a true leader we’re looking for.
Someone who starts regularly. Who instinctively leads. The leader who stares in the face of a 2 goal deficit and sees the potential to win the game.
Let me be candid: In the current squad, I’m struggling.
Theoretically, Ivanovic or Cahill in the back 4 are potential leaders. Branna is certainly a regular starter, Cahill less so but as we’re haemorrhaging goals, who is leading the line now?
Turning to midfield, Hazard and Oscar, though sublimely gifted don’t emit an abundance of leadership signals.
Ramires’ body language does not scream of leadership. Mikel, arguably our most improved player this season is more vocal as the years pass but is he a leader? Not for me, not yet anyway.
Fernando Torres is a talented footballer. His travails as a Blue are well documented. His focus must be on leading the line, not the team.
You’ve probably worked out by now that my nomination is arguably our most influential, creative and dynamic player of the current crop: Step forward Senor Juan Manuel Mata.
He commands respect from everyone. Have a look at Hazard’s goal against Norwich and his reaction. I know Mata played him in but there are many other examples.
JT is our club captain and I don’t expect that to change. For me though the mantle of leadership is passing slowly but surely to Mata. He is a PR dream but more importantly, he inspires THIS generation of Chelsea players to achieve greatness.
I’ll be watching with interest to see his influence grow in the coming months.