Just when you were thinking that the Premier League had become a much nicer place without José Mourinho in it, here comes another old friend from Stamford Bridge who can be relied on to pollute the atmosphere. Yes, it’s John Terry again, JT, Captain, Leader, Legend, who issued a tear-stained farewell saying Chelsea didn’t want him any more (sob), it couldn’t be a fairytale ending (sob), and he wasn’t going to retire at Chelsea (hysterical weeping). But so loyal was he that he couldn’t possibly be going to another Premier League club (stately music and solemn applause). Oh please, what a load of tosh. This was Terry, in his inimitable way, stitching up his club by bringing pressure to bear for his new contract, which Chelsea have yet to specifically decline and would probably have offered anyway, except now they would have to do so on wildly better terms and under public pressure.
Forget America or the Middle East; personally I think Terry will be off to China. His old team-mate, the 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder Ramires, signed the other day for Jiangsu Suning, which is based in Nanjing and is as ambitious as hell. The fee was £25 -million and he will be on at least £200,000 a week. Terry’s old pal Didier Drogba had a contract worth £216,000 a week. The word is that Terry could be clearing around a cool £20 million a year, wherever he ends up. Not bad for the end of your career.
Say what you like about JT, he can see a good deal a mile off. Chinese culture is obsessed with luxury products and world football stars are the ultimate status symbol. It looks like JT, who was always a master of positional play, has positioned himself perfectly for a large slice of the Chinese cake. And he gets to see the pandas too.
Good for Pep Guardiola, off to Manchester City with the most gilded reputation in football coaching. His status and Sheikh Mansour’s billions should be enough to coax the best players in the world to the Etihad: ‘Taxi to Wilmslow for Mr Messi, please.’ But if City win the league this season without Kompany, with De Bruyne out for months and Agüero and Silva out for long periods that will be an epic feat of management by Manuel Pellegrini. He’s a good guy too.
How great could Andy Murray have been if he played in another era? Federer has 17 grand slams, Rafa 14, and Djokovic now 11. Between them they have won 38 of the past 44 majors (two for Murray and Stan Wawrinka; one each for Del Potro and Čilić). Murray’s record at the Australian Open is five finals, no titles; he has been to nine Grand Slam finals and been knocked out nine times in semi-finals. His consistency is astonishing, even more than his ability to chunter at his coach between every point. Is he our greatest ever sportsman? Steve Redgrave and Chris Hoy may disagree but there aren’t many other contenders: Jonny Wilkinson; A.P. McCoy; Sir Bradley? Andy is a man alone.
Not long to wait now before the Six Nations, always a winter treat, though now several levels below the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship. Still, here’s a humble wish list: it would be nice to see hookers hook at last; I want England to play like Japan, which would make them New Zealand; I love France and French rugby but I wouldn’t mind seeing them come last so that they realise that great clubs don’t make a great national side; I would like to see Scotland win three games. I would like the RFU to get their heads round the fact that sport is international and let mischievous Eddie Jones pick anyone -English, wherever they play. I would like to see tries being scored, great three-quarter moves, brave calls and end this Six Nations feeling like it really is the finishing school for next year’s Lions team that can wipe the smug smile off the face of the greatest world champions there ever were.
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