Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink hails Didier Drogba after Wembley winner
19 April 2009 10:14
Apparently set for the Stamford Bridge exit door this summer after ending last season on a low ebb with his Champions League dismissal in Moscow before falling out of favour with new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari this season, Drogba suddenly looks a man reborn.
The Ivorian has responded to Hiddink's arrival and even Arsene Wenger was forced to acknowledge the impact he made at Wembley, far beyond the 84th-minute winner that booked an FA Cup final appearance against either Manchester United or Everton on May 30.
With a special tribute of his own, Hiddink said:
"It is amazing," said the Dutchman."Didier Drogba is playing a lot of games, every three or four days, and he is producing all the time.
"You do not just judge a striker by his goals. He can do a lot of other things for the team. But now Didier is scoring decisive goals in almost every game."
Far from the sullen, moody player Hiddink might have expected when he arrived to rescue Chelsea from their alarming slump in February, Drogba presented a positive image.
Like most of the Chelsea players, he responded to the arrival of Hiddink on a short-term agreement with Russia, and the results are startling.
"I had no single criticism about his attitude from the first day I came,"
Hiddink contiued. "What we made very clear was that we didn't want to give ourselves excuses but sometimes you have to do less to be more productive.
"Drogba was in a position of not playing frequently. It was logical that he would not be smiling every day.
"But you have to make a commitment to the team and that is exactly what he has done."
Chelsea know they have the perfect present to give Hiddink for his intended departure on May 31 in their grasp.
The Dutchman continues to insist he will not remain beyond the agreed date, although owner Roman Abramovich will surely attempt to find a compromise with the Russian football federation.
"I am enjoying myself very much," he said."I enjoy working with these players. There has been a very positive atmosphere since the day I arrived.
"I hope to leave on May 31 with a bottle of champagne, maybe even a crate if we win all three."
While all the talk has been of United's pursuit of multiple trophies and Liverpool's attempt to land a first Premier League title since 1990, Chelsea have quietly moved into contention for a treble.
But it seems Hiddink is intent on keeping his side under the radar just now.
"We can only go one step at once," he said.
"We have Barcelona in the Champions League and they are a beautiful team.
"In the Premier League the pressure is more on Liverpool than us because Manchester United are still in a luxurious position."