John Terry: Why the value of signing the ex-England captain can’t be underestimated
Earlier this week there was one piece of transfer news in the Championship that garnered quite a bit of interest. When Aston Villa announced they had secured the signature of former Chelsea and England captain John Terry there were a few raised eyebrows.
Even at the age of 36 the centre-back was happy to drop down a division despite reported interest from the likes of Bournemouth and Swansea City.
The fact that the West Midlands outfit convinced Terry to choose them rather than other Premier League sides certainly warrants recognition for the work of Villa manager Steve Bruce and the senior hierarchy.
A big part of why Terry agreed to join Villa most likely points to the man at the helm of the club.
Bruce, who took charge of the Villans two months into the start of the last campaign, has a wealth of experience at this level — he has earned promotion to the Premier League four times during spells with Hull City and Birmingham City.
Terry admitted a big attraction was that Villa have the ‘same ambition to get promoted’ and Bruce’s track record is a good starting point to achieving that aim.
The 56-year-old’s recent success also helps to substantiate suggestions that he could take Villa back into the top-flight.
Drawing comparisons with the most recent predecessor, Roberto Di Matteo, would be unfair because of his fairly brief tenure.
Looking at Martin O’ Neill’s record for example, the Northern Irishman only had a marginally bigger win ratio (42.11%), compared with Bruce’s record (41.67%), and he was in charge for four years.
When you see statistics like this it isn’t hard to see why players such as Terry, who have featured in Champions League finals, are persuaded to make sacrifices.
Now that Terry is at the club just how much of a coup is it?
Although Villa finished 18 points outside of the play-off places last year, there were promising signs in defence — they were one of just five teams to concede less than 50 goals and three of the other four finished in the top six.
Recent form might not be the most honest indicator of his value but if Terry can replicate performances during Chelsea’s title-winning 2014–15 campaign — playing every single Premier League match and helping to keep 17 clean sheets — Villa will be a vastly improved defensive unit.
Even when the Barking-born footballer doesn’t contribute on the pitch his knowledge from the side lines and during training will have a massive impact on the development of other players.
Someone like Nathan Baker, who played a key part in the Villa defence last season, will be able to learn so much just after spending a few sessions with the three-time UEFA Club Defender of the Year.
This potential to help other individuals already at the club improve their game by imparting his wisdom is another prospect that makes the deal a rather astute signing.
When Terry announced he would be spending the next 12 months at Villa there was plenty of scepticism about how much he would actually feature but his ability to affect the team off the pitch is hugely significant.
Assessing the entirety of his contribution it would seem wise to suggest Bruce will reap significant rewards by having Terry in his ranks and has therefore made a worthwhile move in snapping up the ex-Blues defender.