Is John Terry on Course to Become 'Captain, Manager, Legend' at Chelsea?

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Is John Terry on Course to Become 'Captain, Manager, Legend' at Chelsea?
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News that John Terry has been told to take a pay cut or leave Chelsea has again raised the question of where the Blues' captain's future lies.

The latest on Terry's contract dealings with Chelsea, as reported by John Cross in the Daily Mirror, suggests that the club is not willing to move away from its policy of handing the over-30s only one-year deals on a reduced wage.

This, of course, is only the latest in what is expected to be a series of missives between now and the end of June, when Terry's contract is due to expire.

But it does raise the issue of what sort of future Terry has with the club and whether he could be seen as Jose Mourinho's long-term successor. Terry has been clear about his managerial aspirations for some time, as reported by the Daily Mail's Matt Barlow in 2011.

Realistically, while Chelsea and Terry do their business in private, and one has to expect a public battle over contract terms (see this story from The Independent last year about Frank Lampard's contract dealings), the expectation is that he will re-sign.

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Mourinho has made it clear that neither he nor Chelsea want Terry to leave this summer, as reported by ESPN, and Chelsea surely know that replacing him would be an impossible thing to do without some form of handover period.

"They will find the right moment," Mourinho said. "The club knows I want him to stay. The club wants him to stay, he wants to stay, so normally he is staying."

So if we assume the deal will be done to give Terry an extra year, as it was with Lampard and Ashley Cole in the second half of last season, then that raises the question of what happens next.

Terry will not remain at the top of his game forever. Cases like that of Paolo Maldini, who played on in Serie A almost a year beyond his 40th birthday, are incredibly rare.

One also has to anticipate that the punishment Terry has given his body, in playing on through injury over the years, must limit his likelihood of many more seasons in the rough and tumble of the Premier League.

But is Terry management material?

Anyone who has followed Chelsea's story over the last decade of unprecedented success will have surely noticed that he is more than just a defender. The way he has picked up spirits and delivered on feint hopes so many times explains the presence of that "Captain, Leader, Legend" tag.

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Could he transfer that on-pitch fortitude to the dugout? The simple answer is that he has done so already. Over that decade, his influence has been the only constant in steering the team toward trophy after trophy.

That influence has waxed and waned at differing times, according to the style of the manager in place. But certainly during several of the "interim" management periods, notably that overseen by Avram Grant, his status has been compared to that of an assistant manager.

Writing in 2012 about the possibility of Terry serving as player-manager, The Guardian's David Lacey argued that "in strict football terms…the notion surely makes some sense":

After all, Chelsea have had some success in appointing experienced players as managers, even if things did eventually end in tears. When Glenn Hoddle left Stamford Bridge in 1996 to take over the England squad, Ruud Gullit succeeded him and led Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph, their first major trophy for 26 years.

Mourinho is adamant that he is at Chelsea for the long haul, as he said in this interview with The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson last December. But as much as on-pitch transition planning is required, the same will be needed among the coaching staff.

Terry is a very long way off management yet; he has only just started taking his coaching badges, as reported by ITV.

But given his commitment, his headstrong determination and his ability to lift practically any side, it has to be expected that he will one day be Chelsea's "Captain, Manager, Legend."

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