By Greg Stobart at Anfield
The captain’s armband was rolled up his arm and he thumped his chest towards the Chelsea fans before kick-off, but there was little else routine about John Terry’s performance against Liverpool.
The Blues captain was at fault for all three of Liverpool’s first-half goals in an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Anfield on Tuesday night that ended the Londoners chances of finishing in the top four this season.
He looked like he’d been celebrating Chelsea's FA Cup final win over the same opponents every night since Saturday as he was twisted and turned, tortured and tormented, by the Reds strike pair of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll
With every nutmeg, Terry looked more confused, swaying in the Mersey breeze and Suarez’s slipstream, his head lighter than the overhead blimp above the stadium.
In a makeshift starting line-up it was Terry who was entrusted to hold the team together by Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea’s interim manager.
But the 31-year-old, who is suspended for the Champions League final on May 20, looked like his mind had switched off a week early as the Blues were left having to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to qualify for Europe’s elite competition next season.
Every challenge seemed to be mistimed, every aerial battle against Carroll lost. Terry allowed Suarez to breeze past him for the opener, embarrassingly slipped for Jordan Henderson to double the advantage and was nowhere to be seen as Daniel Agger made it three.
Perhaps it was just a bad night for Chelsea’s leader, but maybe he was punished for a lack of application, the disappointment of his absence from the Champions League final starting to show.
It was certainly not a performance that set an example with youngsters like Ryan Bertrand and Romelu Lukaku featuring in the match.
Rumours persist that Terry may be left out of Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2012 because of concerns over the divisive effect he could have, but on this evidence there are legitimate football reasons to consider his place on the plane to Ukraine and Poland.
In fact, he may not even be missed when Chelsea play in Munich later this month. If he cannot handle Andy Carroll, how would Terry cope against Mario Gomez and the rest of Bayern’s attacking stars?
The impact of his suspension has been overstated. Of course, his experience, leadership and ability to read the game would be useful on such a big stage.
Yet he is partial to a howler, having made the most individual mistakes that have led to goals in the Premier League this season. The feeling within the game is that his powers have been rapidly fading over the last two years.
Chelsea’s rearguard performance in Barcelona with 10 men - as a result of Terry’s stupidity - proved that they can get by without him. If Gary Cahill and David Luiz are fully fit for the Champions League final, the Blues should cope just fine without their skipper.
Terry loves his image of captain, leader and legend at Stamford Bridge. But at Anfield on Tuesday night he failed to lead by example; his stupidity in the Camp Nou means he will not be leading his side out in the Champions League final and he may not even play for England at Euro 2012.