Drogba focused on final success
On Saturday, Chelsea will end their campaign in pursuit of the final trophy of the season: the FA Cup. A trip to Wembley to face Everton affords them the opportunity to end 2008-09 on a high and give interim manager Guus Hiddink the perfect send off; but it is hard to disguise the disappointment that has surrounding the club in recent weeks.
Finishing the Premier League season in third place, the crushing, controversial, last-minute defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League ensured that the club could win only one trophy before the summer break.
Ivorian striker Didier Drogba received a great deal of criticism for his part in the fallout from that game, when he raged at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo in a foul-mouthed rant after the final whistle. Drogba has since apologised for his actions and now has his focus firmly fixed on securing the season's last piece of silverware.
He spoke with ESPNsoccernet.fr's Bruno Salla about the Blues, his relationship with Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda, and finally about his future at the club.
Bruno Salla: Do you think Chelsea can afford to finish a second season without a title?
Didier Drogba: A few weeks ago, we were battling on three fronts (Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League) and today, we only have one chance left to win a title. It's a great opportunity. It's fantastic to be in the final but it's even more important to win it. It's even more important after all the efforts we made since January and we just have to deliver the final stroke to win the trophy.
But we are going to face a side (Everton) who may be even more motivated than us because it's not been a long time since we last won the Cup (2007). This final will be even more difficult than the one against Manchester United two years ago [in which Drogba scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.]
BS: Why will it "be more difficult"?
DD: Because everyone thinks it will be an easy game for Chelsea. I think we have to show a great deal of respect to Everton. They had a fantastic season, finishing in fifth, and we actually haven't managed to beat them during the season [drawing 0-0 twice in the League]. We must remain focused.
BS: You are going to play at Wembley. It seems to be a ground where you perform fairly well.
DD: I can say I was lucky - or even privileged - to score during each game at Wembley. The total is now up to three goals. The first one allowed us to win the FA Cup against Man Utd in 2007. The second one, unfortunately, was pointless because we lost the Carling Cup against Tottenham in 2008 and the last one; it was during the semi-finals this year to Arsenal [in a 2-1 win].
BS: Can you explain this special relationship to Wembley
DD: I don't know. I enjoy the big games, I like the big stadiums and I like the atmosphere of the finals, even if I wasn't lucky in all of them. It's for these kinds of events that we play football.
BS: You seem to have a real connection with Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka. For the last two months, Chelsea have based their offensive game on an attacking trident - Malouda, Anelka and you.
DD: We have spent a lot of time together on the pitch over the last few months so, it creates special connections. It becomes a lot easier to perform better and win games. We've all known each other for a long time. Flo and Nico are used to playing together for the French squad. Flo and me were playing together for Guingamp [A Ligue 2 side who won the French Cup this season]. Nico and me always had mutual respect even before getting to know each other and, so many times, we said we wanted to play together. Now, it's the case, and we have managed to perform well for the club.
BS: Are you now over the anger of your controversial defeat in the semi-final of the Champions League against Barcelona?
DD: No. Maybe next season. I apologised and if I had to do it again, I would do it again. I have played again since and the way my teammates showed me support was amazing. Now, my main objective is to focus on the Cup final.
BS: We have talked a lot about your future at the club over the last few weeks. Now, it looks more like you're going to extend your contract for Chelsea. What's the situation?
DD: People will always talk about me no matter what I say.
BS: But do you want to stay?
DD: As long as they [Chelsea] want me, I'm staying.