With the campaign continuing on in three competitions, the team is fast closing in on a record number of games in one season. John Terry has spoken about the way the players are being managed through the demands of a constantly crowded fixture list.
The club-record number of games is 64 recorded in 2006/07, a season that ended with the FA Cup and League Cup won. Two trophies remain a possibility this year after Monday’s victory over Manchester United and a good first-leg result against Rubin Kazan.
‘That number of games seemed quite a lot,’ recalled Terry, ‘but when you are talking about possibly 70 games for guys that are playing every week, it has an effect.’
‘But the manager is handling the players well, with half games played and days off, and when there are opportunities to rest players he is doing that the right way and giving the players the opportunity to spend time with their families as well.
‘There is not too much opportunity for the manager to get training sessions in, but it is important the rest and recovery that he allows us to do, spending it at the training ground. The players are professional enough as well, we realise that it is going to be a long season for us so away from it we need to be doing the right thing.’
The experienced captain believes the squad is capable of maintaining the challenge in all the competitions, and added:
‘The manager is rotating and giving players opportunities which as players you want. Everyone wants to play every game but unfortunately that cannot be the case and we have so many big and important games coming up now, we are in semi-finals and quarter-finals and we really need to push on in the league.
‘Realistically he probably cannot rest too many in the league and will be looking at his best side going forward in that, and the semi-final very much the same. There may be a couple of opportunities for certain players to play and impress in the Europa League.’
With our quarter-final tie in that competition at the halfway stage, Terry saw enough in Thursday’s match to have optimism for next week’s return.
‘I fancy us to go there and score’ he said.
‘Rubin Kazan showed they can be quite dangerous but at 2-0 I felt the game would be quite comfortable. Then the penalty came and they came to life. It is definitely not over. There is still some life left in the tie.
‘It definitely wasn’t a penalty. People said to me afterwards that I had 0.2 of a second to get out the way of it and my arms were down by my side as well.
‘But going forward Fernando [Torres] got in behind them quite a few times and they can be got at. The pitch, the weather conditions and travel can be factors and we need to be wary of that.’
Before the match in Moscow comes the visit of Sunderland on Sunday.
‘It is going to be really tough with their new manager coming in,’ warned Terry. ‘Paolo Di Canio was a fantastic player and he will certainly have them up for it, and you could see how organised Swindon were in the short time he was there. But we must win and keep winning games in the league because this club must be involved in the Champions League.’