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Jan 14, 2009

Drogba dropped for FA Cup clash

Didier Drogba has been sensationally axed from Chelsea's side to face Southend United in the FA Cup on Wednesday night as manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's adopts a get-tough policy.

In the wake of the Blues' 3-0 mauling by Manchester United on Sunday, Scolari blasted that some of his players had only performed to "35 per cent" of their potential in the last five games.

Drogba's exclusion for the trip to Roots Hall has placed a huge question mark over the future of the Ivory Coast striker, who has been linked with a return to Marseille or a reunion with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

Scolari also hinted at more major changes after giving his squad of highly-paid players enough opportunities to impress him since the summer.

Scolari clearly feels Drogba is a pale shadow of the player once feared by both Premier League and European defences.

The Ivorian's apparent indifference on the pitch is in marked contrast to the eagerness of top scorer Nicolas Anelka who told Scolari he was unhappy at being left out of the starting line-up for their last three games.

Now Scolari appears to have made-up his mind and Drogba's days at Stamford Bridge look numbered.

"I have looked at many games with Anelka and I have looked at the last few games with Didier," said Scolari. "I have my opinion and I will put my opinion on the pitch every game.

"All the players have had their chance. I have given every player at least five or six games to impress.

"Now we will start with one team against Southend United, and maybe I will start with the same team against Stoke City. But I need answers from the players. I will give them their chance and I need answers.

"If I have given players only one chance then maybe some of the players will complain that they have only had one opportunity.

"But when I have given four or five chances then there is no room for questions, it is my decision to play this or that player, and finish.

"In last five games we play at 50% of our potential. No more than this. Some players have been at 75 to 80% while others have been at 35 to 40%. But the balance for our team in the last five games has been 50%.

"If you ask me if this team are ready to win things then no. They are not ready to win a trophy and they know this. They might not say things publicly but they know we are not ready.

"The players have been trying hard and I know that and I understand. It is difficult for the fans and people outside the club.

"Do you think that any player will go on the pitch in front of 75,000 people and not want to play? Never. Sometimes they make mistakes because they are not in a good condition but not because they do not want to play. If this happened then they would be finished. I am a good man but I am not a fool.

"I understand people now don't have a very good opinion about me because we lost a game 3-0 against Man Utd. I know this but in my opinion, I am doing a good job."

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