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To tell the two players that although, publicly, they can continue to rely on the support of their club, and their importance to the side will always ensure they continue to be selected, they would be wise to reflect a little on how recent events reflect on Chelsea’s reputation. Whenever there is a negative headline about Terry or Cole, it is inevitable Chelsea’s name also gets dragged into it.
As they consider their own recent behaviour, Terry and Cole ought to think about their responsibility to their club and their supporters, and ask themselves what impact they have had on its image.
Do they think they owe something back to Chelsea for having created such controversy?
Chelsea have been good to those two players, and the duo have undoubtedly contributed enormously to their team’s success, but you have to ask yourself who is helping who the most at this particular time?
The last thing the club wants or needs is to be having to deal with an enduring situation such as this.
Every sporting institution wants positive publicity. They want to milk the applause for being champions of Europe, winning cups and league titles, not to be firefighting endlessly against incidents involving their star players.
Some will say it’s up to the clubs to take a stand – to make examples of wayward players. To fine them, to suspend them, to sack them even.
Good luck with that idealism; it just won’t happen. Throughout time football clubs will never willingly sacrifice a valuable commodity.
Terry and Cole are too precious to Chelsea. There is no way they would do anything but defend them in the media, and there is no way any other club would act differently in the same situation.
You can compile a list of all the top sides whose best players have found themselves in trouble and you will see exactly the same response.
They rally round and stand by their men, even if behind closed doors you can be sure of a fair amount of head-shaking and questions as to how and why these predicaments arise and how it can be prevented in future.
You can talk all you want about the rights and wrongs of how the top players behave and respond to disciplinary procedures. I’m sure fines do not even bother some footballers, nowadays.
The reality is the elite players can get away with more than those at the lower levels. It’s never been any different. With great talent comes great power and an ability to get away with breaches of discipline. Football is a business like no other. Chief executives, chairmen or board members may be easily replaced if they do something wrong at minimal cost, but you don’t just let a world-class footballer go because it will cost you money and results.
What those players must understand with everything they say and do on and off the pitch, however, is that they have a duty to their club as well as their own image.
I can’t believe Terry and Cole enjoy being subject to such poor headlines. They can’t possibly crave being abused at away grounds, which is sure to happen for the foreseeable future.
Deep down, they must want to be remarked upon for how good they are as players. There is no doubt they are among the most talented this country has produced.
What I have noted, particularly in Terry’s case, is how little it seems to impact on his performances when he is under scrutiny. I’m not suggesting he thrives on it, but it certainly does not have a detrimental effect.
Cole seems to be the same. He acts in a way in which he must know will not lead to a positive outcome, and yet still he proceeds down that road.
What screams out is the lack of advice they are receiving or, perhaps more pertinently, the lack of advice they are listening to.
There will be people who surround the players who spell out to them the consequences of their actions, what it will mean for how they are perceived and the damage it can have on their football club.
I suspect it is at Chelsea itself where there is the most consternation.
They know that to do anything but support the pair will be seen as disloyal and divisive in their own club, having an even more damaging effect, while outside of Stamford Bridge people just presume a stand should be taken. It really is a ‘no win’ situation for a manager and the board.
There has been too much collateral damage since Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
The England manager lost his job, the England captain lost the armband and then quit international football, his long-time international centre half partner has been left out the squad and now the England left-back’s future is under a cloud.
Finally, Chelsea have paid a price for being accused of being too loyal to their players. Terry and Cole should now repay that loyalty by ensuring this whole saga belatedly comes to an end.