Chelsea fans revere Didier Drogba and hail his return, but they’re suffering from a bad case of selective memory.
Didier Drogba’s return to Chelsea has been viewed as the homecoming of one of the greatest players to ever wear the famous Chelsea Blue. No one ever denies the importance of Drogba’s contribution to Chelsea but some wonder why people view him as an untouchable god? For all of Drogba’s accomplishments there were just as many turbulent times and failures to go along with it. We welcome back Drogba with open arms, but let’s not forget all the tough times he put us through.
04/05 Season – Everyone Else’s Fault
Didier Drogba’s first season at the club was a difficult one for him and fans: 16 goals across all competitions and a well-deserved early reputation as a diver. Not only did we see Drogba fail to shine on the pitch but his words off of them were troubling.
I sacrificed myself for the whole team while forgetting my scoring figures. I did think that I would spend less time running about after the ball.
Rather than owning up to his inability to score, Drogba was quick to blame everyone but himself for his poor first season. Drogba also blamed the pressure of his transfer fee cost and claimed that no other striker would succeed in his position. Drogba gets sent off in controversial fashion against Barcelona, almost costing Chelsea their spot in the Champions League, before an inspired performance by his teammates with him out of the lineup.
05/06 Season – Cheating is Okay in His Mind
Drogba’s second season was probably his worst in a Chelsea shirt. His reputation as a diver and a cheat that did not sit well with Chelsea supporters. In one infamous situation, he was booed by Chelsea fans for using his hand to score against City.
Yes, it was handball, but that’s part of the game….
If City had done it, no-one would have mentioned it. But everyone is out to make a big mess about Chelsea.
Drogba starts threatening Chelsea by saying that he doesn’t need to play for them and has plenty of suitors. He goes as far as to claim that he would play for any Champions League team and that he is sick of all the pressures and scandals at Chelsea. Drogba seemingly cheats again against Fulham with the goal being disallowed. He ends the season with another average return of 16 goals in all competitions.
06/07 Season – Drogba Still Remains Uncommitted
After a summer in which it seemed Drogba would leave, he finally started scoring goals on a consistent basis. The arrival of Shevchenko and all the cheating controversy sparked him into becoming one of the world’s elite strikers. Despite his success, though, Drogba still seems unhappy with Chelsea and still speaks ominously about his future.
If I think the club lacks ambition, then it is sure I will not stay too long. I’m 29 and I don’t have much time to lose. I’m at the last big turning point of my career.
Despite a strong start, Drogba completely fades near the end. Two goals from March until the end of the season sees Manchester United take the title from Chelsea and also sees the Blues crash out of the Champions League to Liverpool. A heroic performance at Wembley Stadium renews Chelsea fans’ faith in Drogba’s seemingly lost ability.
07/08 Season – Costing Chelsea the Champions League
Like many affiliated with Chelsea, Drogba struggled Jose Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea. Injuries plagued much of the season as Drogba scored a then career low 15 goals for Chelsea in all competitions, including just 8 in the League (albeit in just 19 games). With his contract winding down to the final year and a half, speculation continues to surround his future.
I want to leave Chelsea. Something is broken. The damage is big in the dressing room.
Drogba officially declares that he wants to leave Chelsea for the first time. His season continues to be filled with controversy after more diving and dirty play claims by Liverpool and Manchester United.
This season also sees arguably Drogba’s worst moment as he is sent off against Manchester United in the Champions League Final for slapping Vidic with just 3 minutes left before penalties. Drogba, set to take the 5th penalty, could only watch as Terry missed, costing Chelsea the Champions League. Chelsea fans are left wondering if things might have been different with Drogba taking the kick rather than Terry.
08/09 Season – A F***ing Disgrace
The 08/09 season was another where Drogba had personal issues with the way Chelsea handled him. Most notably was his inability to get along with newly hired Luiz Felipe Scolari. Scolari would later claim that he wanted to swap Drogba for his countryman Adriano. Drogba’s League form disappeared with just 5 goals (and a new career low of 14 in all competitions).
When Scolari started blaming individuals, then that was bad. To name one player as to blame for what happened in a squad of 24 players is wrong. How can one player be responsible for not winning for so many weeks and losing points?
The Drogba controversy continues as he throws a coin at Burnley fans after a loss in the League Cup. Even more controversial was his on-air rant after a highly controversial robbery from referee Tom Henning Ovrebo. Drogba received a 6 match ban in Europe (later reduced to 5 after a Chelsea appeal) but decided to remain a Chelsea player despite his contract expiring.
09/10 Season – The Year of Redemption
Drogba finally becomes the striker that everyone expected from day 1. A phenomenal season with little controversy sees him overcome disappointment from the Champions League and inconsistencies scoring goals. He nets a career-high 37 goals, the second and last time in his Chelsea career he scores over 20 goals.
I had to get over the frustration in the second half and come back. I was not happy but afterwards on the pitch I realised that I was making a big mistake and Frank was right.
Not everything is perfect however as Chelsea crash out to Mourinho’s Inter Milan team in the first round of the knockout stages. This match saw Drogba sent off yet again for an altercation with Thiago Motta. Controversy ensues in the final game of the season when Drogba throws a fit after Lampard takes a penalty. With the Golden Boot on his mind, Drogba takes a “me-first” approach, later admitting his mistake.
10/11 Season – Decline in Ability and Arrival of Competition
Drogba’s season was hampered by malaria, which significantly hurt his performance. He hit the lowest goalscoring return in his career (13, matched again the following season) only managing a total of 2 goals outside of the League. The arrival of Fernando Torres sees Carlo Ancelotti attempt to juggle his striking option with neither being effective.
This season he had some problems because he had malaria for two months and so was not in good condition. But now he has time to do his best and to be important for us in all the games. -Carlo Ancelotti
An important penalty miss in extra time sees Chelsea drop points to Tottenham after a dip in form. Seeing Drogba’s decline was arguably one of the reasons Chelsea sought Torres as a replacement. Drogba scored an important goal in a Champions League battle with Manchester United but is unable to carry the load for Chelsea.
11/12 Season – Drogba’s Farwell
The sacking of Ancelotti, the arrival of Andre Villas-Boas and competition with Torres made the 11/12 season another mostly average one for Drogba. Again he tied his career low in goals across all competitions while scoring just 5 in the League. A poor challenge against QPR reduced Chelsea to 9 men (after Bosingwa had been sent off earlier) and he looked out of his depth for most of the season.
” responded ‘Are you dreaming or what? We’ve lost all our values. There’s no more team. It’s impossible.’ Finally the return of the old players, with Lampard and me, did the team good.
Drogba never got along with AVB and criticized him after his departure. His exploits in the Champions League Final are well remembered but what are not remembered were his silly challenges against Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Often forgotten or “glossed over” were the penalties that nearly cost Chelsea their spot (and title) in the tournament.
A Look Back
From selfishness to diving to cheating to threats, Drogba was definitely not the model of perfection that Chelsea fans portray him to be. Inconsistencies and a poor attitude were regular components of his game. We all love Drogba, he was clutch. He showed up when he needed to and we are all grateful forever for what he did for us. But we must ask ourselves, is he the best?
He was not always a team player. It took Chelsea fans booing him, disciplinary actions and comeback after comeback to change Drogba and make him the legend he is today. The truth was, he was not the consistent player people make him out to be. He won’t be this time around either. Drogba shows up when he wants to. Luckily for us, it was at all the right times.
I’ll leave it with my favorite Drogba quote of all-time
I would love to help Chelsea in any way, even if they tell me to come and cut the grass. I will do it.