Terry planning for a frustrating new year


SOCCER: Captain John Terry has warned the chasing pack at the top of the English Premiership to prepare themselves for the slow realisation they will not stop Chelsea from lifting the title for the second successive season.

The England international defender wants the players of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool to feel the same sense of hopelessness as Chelsea did when they were sitting behind the leaders in previous years.

Terry will never forget the despair of trying to keep up with an Arsenal side which went unbeaten throughout a season, and he now wants the trio of clubs chasing them to experience that kind of frustration.

Chelsea face Birmingham today with Terry set to make his 250th senior appearance for the Blues, and he remains adamant there will be no slip-ups on the way to their second successive top-flight crown.

"If we keep winning and the other teams behind us keep winning, it's going to be so frustrating for them," declared Terry.

"We were in the same situation a few years ago when Arsenal kept winning and winning during that great season they had.

"When we were winning and trying to catch them, the belief that you are not going to get there slowly kicks in as the season goes on, and hopefully that's what other teams are feeling now."

Chelsea are 11 points clear at the top of the league and victory over struggling Birmingham at Stamford Bridge appears to be nothing more than a foregone conclusion.

Jose Mourinho's side increased the margin with a victory over Manchester City in midweek while Alex Ferguson's side were dropping points against today's opponents.

But while Chelsea's football has not been as pretty or as exciting as last season, it is their ability to grind out results when playing below standard that has pleased Terry more than anything.

"Last season was a good achievement for us but we have improved again since then," he said. "That is our target - to keep improving each season.

"We lost at Manchester United and drew with Everton, but other than that we have looked solid.

"In the nitty-gritty games, when things may not have gone our way, we have ground out results and that has been the key for me. When we've not played well, we've still picked up three points."

While City are entrenched in the relegation dogfight, Terry insists they will take them just as seriously as any other side in the Premiership.

"They are a very good side," he maintained. "I know they are struggling at the moment, but they have got a great manager in Steve Bruce and some very good players. It is strange why they are down at the bottom of the league because they are very strong. We have got a lot of respect for them."

Chelsea are on the brink of adding Nuno Ribeiro from Dynamo Moscow to the squad, and Terry believes he will be a fine addition given his previous working relationship with Mourinho.

Ribeiro, better known as Maniche, is set to join Chelsea on loan for the remainder of the season to cover for Michael Essien while he is on international duty with Ghana in the African Nations Cup.

Maniche (28), was with Mourinho at Benfica and Porto where the pair won Uefa Cup and Champions League honours.

"If he comes the manager knows a lot about him and what kind of character he is," said Terry.

"With the team spirit we've got here, the manager knows if he is going to sign him that he will fit in. Footballing wise, I think everyone can see he has got great ability."

Dynamo sports director Boris Ignatiev confirmed the deal was reaching a conclusion and that Maniche could be heading to Stamford Bridge.

"Talks with Chelsea are still continuing," he said. "We are in the last parts of the negotiation. It is possible they will take Maniche on loan."