'Incredible Sulk' Didier Drogba transformed by Guus Hiddink

18 April 2009 09:28
'No, no, I'm the same player,' protested the Ivorian, as if all those months when he played like a bloke who looked simply desperate to be anywhere but Stamford Bridge had been a figment of our imaginations.

Drogba was fooling nobody. From the first few minutes when he was harrying and hassling Arsenal's understudy keeper, Lukasz Fabianski, to the coup de grace in the closing moments when he waltzed past the hapless Pole to put Chelsea into the final, this was clearly not the 'Incredible Sulk' who seemed to have lost all his old desire and prowess under the Luiz Felipe Scolari regime.

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'We said to each other, 'We're all big men. You've played in World Cups and Champions League finals and I've had a little bit of experience too',' explained Hiddink. 'Let's face each other, respect each other and challenge each other. That's when we got everything out of everyone.'

You could see Hiddink's success most clearly demonstrated when Arsenal deservedly went ahead. Who was the man he turned to on the touchline to pass on instructions about the team having to push up higher in midfield to give better service for the front two?

Why, none other than Drogba himself, who was next seen animatedly lecturing Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack about their positioning.

For Arsenal, Emmanuel Adebayor was a grievous disappointment with the stakes at their highest, but neither the Togolese's shoulders, nor the fragile pair belonging to the lively Theo Walcott, were ultimately equipped to carry the match-winner's burden. The great unwritten rule of Chelsea-Arsenal combat, though, is that Drogba can always be relied on.

He said afterwards that he had no idea why he always seems to find the net against Arsenal but here again was evidence that he really does seem to have it in for dear old Arsene Wenger.

This was his eighth goal in nine Chelsea-Arsenal games. Not any old goals, either. Four times previously they had been match-winning strikes, including the double which won that ugly Snarling Cup final in Cardiff two years ago and another pair which landed the Community Shield.

Being at Wembley too, where the Ivorian had won the Cup for Chelsea against Manchester United with another late, late show, there was almost a kind of inevitability about the finale when a hopeful ball hoofed through by Frank Lampard was not dealt with properly by Arsenal's central pillars of defence.

Fabianski will doubtless take some of the blame for that but he had to have expected Kolo Toure and Mikael Silvestre to have cleared the ranks before Drogba muscled in, rounded the Pole and slotted home.

Again, the shirtless celebrations in front of the exultant Chelsea fans seemed another age from his Champions League final dismissal in Moscow, which you would have bet good money on being his last appearance for the club.

So it was that Wenger was left moaning about the rubbish pitch and Hiddink left pondering that the new Wembley is much better than when he came here with Russia.

There seems no doubt that Carlo Ancelotti already has the Chelsea job signed and sealed, yet with each statement of the team's remarkable resurgence under Hiddink, it still seems unimaginable that he won't be at the helm at Stamford Bridge in August.

Losing one great manager in Jose Mourinho may have been unfortunate; losing two, when Scolari left, was careless. The hat-trick would be simply criminal.


Source: Telegraph