By Chris Wright
John Terry is the best centre-back in Premier League history – not our words, Carol. The words of Jamie Carragher.
That’s right. In light of Chelsea’s cold, hard, calculated shutting-out of Arsenal yesterday, Carra has gone big and declared Terry to be the finest example of central defendership the Premier League has even seen.
You know what? We’re inclined to agree with him.
As well as being a born winner with a ruthless approach to ruining strikers’ afternoons, there is nobody better at resolute Helm’s Deep-style defending than John Terry. For those not preoccupied by superfluous step-overs, he can be a true joy to watch.
Football goes both ways after all. Those who wish to sell you football as an entertainment package might not be keen to highlight it as much, but the practice of good defending is just as vital and accomplished as all that mincing about at the other end of the pitch.
So, if not Terry, then who are the realistic alternatives? Tony Adams? Rio Ferdinand? Nemanja Vidic? Des Walker? Paul McGrath? Sol Campbell? Perhaps even Carragher himself?
We’d posit that only Adams and Ferdinand probably have legitimate claims to the moniker – as polar opposite in style as they may be – but neither can quite match Terry’s combined consistency, longevity and trophy haul.
There really hasn’t ever been a lull in his prowess, even with the received wisdom being that most centre-backs take until their mid-20’s to fully mature.
We know the consistency is the last bastion of the unimaginative and all that, but little things like being resilient, reliable and dependable at all times are a big deal when it comes to being a central defender. Not being a quivering, flappy mess matters. Uncertainty radiates.
As Carragher explains:
“For the next 20 or 30 years, that position at the near post, when we see other defenders doing it we’ll call it the ‘John Terry’ position.”
“You can’t always find yourself in the right position to put your head on things and clear things, you’ve got to have an understanding of the game.
“We’re not just talking about a big aggressive centre-back, Terry is always in the right position.
“His understanding of where to be, his reading of the game and reading crosses cannot be matched. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone better.”
Exactly. Nobody does it better. He’s always there, and that’s not by accident. It’s a skill – an incredibly influential an under-appreciated skill.
Lest we forget that defending is an art. A largely ugly, destructive and austere art, but an art none the less.
What say you, Pies fans? Is John Terry the best centre-back of the Premier League era?