Friday, October 19, 2007

Drogba Speaks

Didier Drogba hasn't shied away from his plans to leave Chelsea. But in an article published in France Footballmagazine today, Drogba stated he'll stay until next summer because "it would be a little cowardly to leave at a time when the boat is rocking".

He does say that his original intention after Jose Mourinho's departure was to leave the club as soon as possible and that he planned to not play against Valencia last month so that he would be eligible to play in the Champions League for another team later in the season. After reflection, Drogba eventually declared himself available for that game and now says he is determined to stay at Chelsea until June.

"When you're disappointed you sometimes take stances that you haven't thought about properly," he explained. "That was my way of showing how angry I was. But I wouldn't have been able to look my team-mates in the eye afterwards. I am someone who has always campaigned for solidarity, so I've decided to stay until next summer."

Drogba is signed until 2010. But he said, "Experience shows that there's no point holding on to a player against his wishes. I hope we'll be able to find a tidy way of leaving Chelsea."

Drogba also revealed that he has been taking Spanish and Italian lessons for "a little while" and would love the opportunity to play for one of the giants of Serie A or La Liga. "I want to get back to playing with butterflies in my stomach for a club who make me dream," he said. "For me, there aren't 50 clubs who could stimulate this sort of passion, just four: AC Milan, Inter, Barça and Real."

Aware that Chelsea fans may accuse him of disloyalty or money-grabbing, Drogba said: "Since my first day at Chelsea, I've always thought collectively. I don't think anyone can complain if I decide to think a little about myself towards the end."

"All I know is that the decision has done a lot of damage to the team," he continued, seriously. "There are many casualties in the dressing room because now we know what happened and whose fault it is that Jose Mourinho is gone. In the days after his departure, I had trouble looking at certain people without feeling angry."

"Some things that were done and said did not conform to the mentality of a squad that until that point had always been tight and had shown solidarity for each other. I understand that some people might not have wanted the coach to stay and hoped that his successor might give them more games, but what happened went beyond that. It went far too far. Maybe it would be an exaggeration to talk about treachery but certainly some people were very disappointing. I understand why the coach, despite being very attached to most of the players, announced as he was going, 'I am very happy to be leaving here.'"

Drogba described the atmosphere in the dressing room after Mourinho's departure. "There were fireworks ... Things went a little haywire and there was quite a rumpus within the group. Several players weren't far off professional misconduct, ignoring basic principles. Fortunately all that didn't last too long."

He refused to elaborate further and denied that there were now warring factions within the dressing room. Asked whether Andriy Shevchenko and John Terry had played any role in Mourinho's departure, he replied - sarcastically, according to France Football - "No, I don't want to believe that ... if that was the case, it would be really shocking."

He made little effort, however, to disguise his displeasure with Roman Abramovich's role in Mourinho's departure. "Everything was halted at the whim of the president," he said. "We are mere employees. I don't hide the fact that I took the whole episode very badly."

"When you stick with a manager through the summer, you have to at least give him until December unless some catastrophe takes place. But apparently president Abramovich has changed philosophy. We feel that the shared story was ended too quickly. We're left with a feeling of incompleteness, and impotence.

Despite all that, Drogba maintains that he is determined to do his best for Chelsea until he leaves. "I think Henk ten Cate will do us good. We're not out of the title race and were still on track in the Champions League. I believe we can succeed. We wouldn't be the first team to pull off a great season after encountering some problems along the way. We've all developed such a hunger for victory that I can't see us settling for second place. We've got what it takes to surprise some people. The trauma is behind us now."

Very elaborating interview. Drogba remains a man who vents his frustration when need be. The marriage between the Ivorian superstar and the money-riddled club looks to be over. What will be the course for the rest of the season?

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