John Terry's orchestrated Stamford Bridge send-off strikes a bum note with some

22 May 2017 07:39

John Terry's career has often mixed triumph with controversy and did so again as his emotional final appearance at Stamford Bridge as a Chelsea player had a premeditated exit.

Press Association Sport understands the Premier League is relaxed about Terry's orchestrated substitution midway through the first half of the champions' 5-1 win over Sunderland, despite it being forecast on social media by the Chelsea fanzine editor before kick-off.

News of the plan could have alerted gamblers to a situation they might have looked for ways to exploit.

However, there is no suggestion the move was anything other than an attempt by Chelsea to give their long-serving captain a farewell to remember in front of the club's fans.

The timing of Terry's departure was significant - he wears the number 26 shirt - but it began when the clock clicked on to 26 minutes, which is the 27th minute, and by the time he left the field it was the 28th minute.

Sunderland boss David Moyes had received advance notice of Chelsea's plans, and his goalkeeper Jordan Pickford obligingly kicked the ball out under direction from Blues striker Diego Costa.

Terry then embraced his team-mates, who lined up to form a guard of honour, before handing over the captain's armband to his replacement Gary Cahill as head coach Antonio Conte looked towards Saturday's FA Cup final with Arsenal.

Former Tottenham forward Garth Crooks told the BBC on a live Match of the Day programme: "This has obviously been set up. I'm a bit uncomfortable with it."

Conte afterwards said: "It was very important to find the right solution to celebrate a great champion, a great legend for this club."

Terry received a rousing reception as the champions came from behind to win.

The 36-year-old former England captain appeared for the Blues for the 717th time, starting in the Premier League for the sixth time this season. It was his 580th game as captain of the team.

Terry, for the fifth time, and Cahill lifted the Premier League trophy afterwards before Terry addressed the supporters in a speech filled with thanks.

Addressing the supporters, Terry said: "I'll be back here one day."

Sunderland were also the opponents when Terry lifted the Premier League trophy two years ago, after he played every minute of all 38 games that season.

Terry has been more peripheral this time around, contributing to his announcement last month that he would be leaving Chelsea after 22 years and 15 major trophies.

A 16th trophy could follow at Wembley, where he could yet make a 718th appearance, although he is likely to be a substitute at best.

Conte warned of the "danger" ahead in Chelsea's quest for the double in his first season as head coach.

The Italian says Arsenal are favourites at Wembley after they missed out on Champions League qualification, failing to finish in the top four for the first time in manager Arsene Wenger's near 21-year tenure.

"This is the real danger for us, to think that this season is finished," Conte said.

"This is a great opportunity to win and to do the double.

"(But) if you ask me who is the favourite now, I can tell (you) it's Arsenal.

"We must have our antenna very high and prepare in the right way.

"I'm not talking about tactical game, I'm talking about motivation, right fire in ourselves, in our soul, in our heart.

"If we have this in the same proportion as Arsenal, or more, we have the possibility to do the double. Otherwise we risk a lot."

Willian cancelled out Javier Manquillo's third-minute opener before goals from Eden Hazard, Pedro and a late double from Michy Batshuayi secured a comprehensive win.

Moyes conceded the gap between the champions and the Premier League's bottom club was always going to be difficult to overcome.

The Scot expressed relief that the season was over, but declined to answer directly if he was committed to the Black Cats.

"I'm gutted we've been relegated, really disappointed the way the season's gone," he said.

Source: PA