LONDON, August 6 – John Terry will return to Chelsea with a point to prove this season as the England defender attempts to reassert his authority after a traumatic World Cup.If Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti harboured fears that Terry would be adversely affected by his experience in South Africa, the Italian would have been mightily reassured by the sight of his captain jogging contentedly around the club’s training base just days after England’s dismal exit against Germany.
England’s World Cup experience left many of Fabio Capello’s squad nursing bruised egos as they were pilloried by angry fans for another flop at a major international tournament.
Terry could easily have been one of those keen to lie low after the centre-half’s erratic displays and an astonishingly ill-judged attempt to fill the leadership void created by injured captain’s Rio Ferdinand’s absence.
Yet, luckily for Ancelotti, Terry is infused with an unbreakable sense of self-belief and, after an uncomfortable time with England, he is relishing the chance to rule the roost at Chelsea once again.
Terry clearly got it wrong when he used a pre-match press conference at the World Cup to portray himself as the man to challenge Capello’s tactics following England’s poor start to the tournament.
It was a provocative statement that led to disharmony in an already-unsettled England camp.
Even before being stripped of the England captaincy following his affair with the ex-girlfriend of former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge, there was never a sense that Terry enjoyed the same level of influence in Capello’s dressing room.
But it is that desire to be seen as a leader of men which gives Terry his status at Chelsea.
At Stamford Bridge, he is the main on-pitch motivator and, just as importantly, acts as the squad’s social secretary, organising team-bonding events that keep the players entertained and morale high.
There can be no doubting the positive effect of Terry’s leadership, as Chelsea’s togetherness has ensured they remain a significant force despite regular changes of manager.
Keeping Terry fit and in form will be more important than ever as Ancelotti struggles with injuries that threaten to derail the Blues’ bid to retain the Premier League title.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech has been ruled out for a month, while Brazilian centre-back Alex is also likely to be sidelined for a similar period.
With Ashley Cole’s future still not certain as Real Madrid eye the England left-back, Terry looks like the one certainty Ancelotti can rely on when he selects his back-four for the season-opener at home to newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion on August 14.
Critics of the 29-year-old will claim his defensive prowess waned to an alarming extent last year.
But, while Terry’s lack of pace was exposed at times, he performed well enough in the title run-in to suggest it would be premature to write him off just yet.
His bravery knows no bounds – as he proved by trying a head-first full-length dive along the turf to block a Slovenian shot at the World Cup.
But there is no doubt what will motivate Terry most this year.
Missing the penalty that would have won the shootout against United in the 2008 Champions League final remains the most painful memory of Terry’s career.
He is desperate to make amends and it probably hasn’t escaped Terry’s notice that the Champions League final will be played at Wembley this season.
It would be little surprise to see Terry making a victorious walk up to Wembley’s Royal Box in nine months time.