Very Specific Football Question No.14: Will ‘the Robbie Savage Principle’ change the face of modern football?

John Terry faced the media on Tuesday at the lowest ebb of his career. Even lower than the time he had full sex with a team-mate’s ex-girlfriend, or when he was accused of being a racist, because at least on those occasions he was playing for a team in the top half of the Premier League table.

The Chelsea captain’s outlook appeared interminably bleak as he took his seat for the press conference. Not only would he be forced to respond to allegations of a potentially toxic dressing room revolt at Stamford Bridge, he also had to mount a defence of his imploding manager Jose Mourinho, not to mention his own shaky form.

JT has always been an easy target due to his aforementioned intercourse with a lady and alleged penchant for racist epithets, along with his attempts to pretend he won the 2012 Champions League and various other imperfections, so the assembled media revelled in this public humbling, albeit handled with an air of grim defiance by the ex-England skipper.

“I’ve come under criticism, individually, from certain players and individuals, players I’ve looked up to and played alongside: Rio, Carra, Neville. I’ve taken that on the chin,” winced a crestfallen Terry, his ignominy completed by his submission to players, such as Ferdinand, known to be his sworn enemies.

Even Terry’s biggest detractors had to admit this was painful to watch. But then, something changed.

Terry continued: “When others speak, maybe I don’t take it on the chin. When players have not had a career, played at a really bad level in their career … Robbie Savage being one.”

Cue unbridled, unexpected delirium in the room. Terry had made everyone laugh, and not even at his own expense, or at Mourinho’s, or at Chelsea’s. Everyone was laughing at Robbie Savage.

The loud-mouthed, perma-tanned, exquisitely coiffured, technically limited, feisty midfielder-turned-pundit is one of the few figures in English football as universally disliked as Terry.

But for JT people at least have a grudging respect due to his glittering career and unshakeable spirit, whereas Savage can call upon no such redeeming qualities.

With one withering remark, Terry had achieved redemption from the jaws of humiliation. If the quip about Savage was dreamed up by one of Chelsea’s media team, they deserve a Radamel Falcao-style bonus. If it was Terry’s own material, it’s probably the most skilful thing he’s done all season. He had somehow won round a hostile crowd by drawing upon one of football’s simplest yet most undeniable truths: everyone thinks Robbie Savage is a tool.

Savage may well point to his 2000 League Cup winner’s medal for Leicester, or his 1997 promotion with Crewe Alexandra, but up against Terry’s array of medals his achievements are undoubtedly “at a bad level”.

He has no comeback. And because he’s Robbie Savage, there isn’t a single person in football who will defend him. Even Leicester and BBC legend Gary Lineker hasn’t tweeted his support.

The wider question is whether John Terry has created, either by luck or design, the perfect diffusing mechanism for all football-related criticism.

Next time Mourinho is interviewed after a Chelsea defeat, he can merely say: “At least I’m not Robbie Savage” in response to every question and prompt a joyful embrace with his interviewer.

When England are eliminated at the group stages of Euro 2016, Roy Hogdson will just remark that his players had “achieved more than Robbie Savage ever did” and the nation will chuckle en masse, and share stories about Savage being a div.

Perhaps the Robbie Savage Principle will go beyond sport. George Osborne could introduce a tax on all blonde-haired males and the public would swallow it as long as he made clear that Robbie Savage would be among those hardest hit.

The Robbie Savage Principle could be the single biggest breakthrough of 2015: Britain’s great unifier, a potential force for good as well as for evil. And if it does ultimately bring our society to its knees, wouldn’t that just be typical bloody Robbie Savage.

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No.10: What would Rodgers be doing today if Gerrard hadn’t fallen over?
No.9: Why can’t Jose Mourinho win in Newcastle?

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