Long compared to Olympic Gold Medallists for their technical ability to hit the deck at will, Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba have never won any praise for their ability to stay on their feet. Certainly, they’ve both been guilty of the odd un-induced tumble in the past but are they still being judged on past (theatrical) performances?
As recently as the CL games midweek, they’ve both seen penalty claims dismissed – apparently without consideration – and yet, in lesser situations Saint Stevie of Me would undoubtedly have been granted the opportunity to go for a hattrick. So, how much has that got to do with the official’s poor eyesight and how much is about preconceived ideas? I mean, anyone who even dares to acknowledge Saint Gerrard isn’t the angel he’d have us believe, has to admit his diving is pretty pathetic. Not for him the ‘gunned down in action’ Drogba dramatics or the histrionic Ronaldo tantrums we’ve seen so often and yet the ‘oh dear I seem to have tripped under the threat of that defender breathing near me’ seems to work so well for him. And whereas the saintly one gets up gingerly, making tearful doe eyes at the ref, Drogba appears to demand an immediate public hanging, such is his indignance and even Ronaldo has been prone to the odd stamp of feet if his hair’s been messed up.
To be fair to them both, they are targeted but then that goes hand in hand with being a constant thorn in the opposition’s side, so they are subjected to the odd foul here and there although with reputations preceding them, decisions are as rare as over 20’s at Arsenal. But with Ronaldo seemingly having three genuine penalty claims turned down in one game alone this week, are these reputations still justified?
In his first two seasons for Chelsea, whilst some quarters of the home support might have appreciated his workhorse-like contributions, Drogba hit the headlines more for his amateur dramatics, lack of impact in front of goal and his apparent desire to show off his ability to handle a ball. So incensed was he that these qualities were not welcomed with open arms, that, a la Gallas, he had a tantrum and threatened to leave. However, a word from his manager and team mates saw a complete about-turn, with him not only accepting his take on what’s ‘sportsman-like’ behaviour was bound to meet with a little derision, but also addressing this balance problem he had the misfortune to be afflicted with. And the effect of staying on his feet paid dividends as Chelsea saw Drogba have the best season of his career to date, becoming the first Chelsea player since Kerry Dixon to score 30 goals in a season and inspiring us to an FA and League Cup double.
Unfortunately, following the departure of Mourinho in September, Drogba was reported to feel like “an orphan who has lost his spiritual father” and again, publicly reiterated his desire to leave the club he now believed was “broken beyond repair”. In fact, on more than one occasion this season we’ve heard how he needs to leave because he feels he has “nothing left to prove in England” – as if we wouldn’t have picked up the clues in his game. Whilst he might still run towards supporters clutching at his badge, the truth is, Drogba cares about Drogba first and foremost and his disinterest in Chelsea couldn’t be more obvious. Unable or unwilling to produce anything like the form we saw last season, he’s lazy, lethargic and whining like a dipper. Not only is he throwing himself on the floor at every given opportunity again but even the brush of an opponents shirt leaves him writhing around in agony – such is the abrasion he apparently receives.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been pretty supportive of Drogba, even in his first couple of seasons. He might not have been banging in the goals but I appreciated his work-rate and could definitely see why Mourinho had faith in him. The problem I have with him though is his laziness – because that’s what his going to ground comes down to – he simply can’t be bothered to stay on his feet and fight for the ball. Add to that his constant mouthing to the press and I’ve been slowly falling out of love with him all season.
This is after all the very same Didier Drogba who also cursed us all by saying Cristiano Ronaldo’s form last season was a one-off. Having seen Ronaldo provide a cutting edge to United’s attack last season, hitting 23 goals, Drogba was adamant the Portugese winger would be unable to sustain this sort of form again – but maybe he should’ve just kept it to himself eh?
Because, maybe if he hadn’t addressed his own aspirations to pull off the perfect triple-salko, then he very well might not have played to his potential. However, this season has seen Ronaldo play some of the most entertaining football, with an end-product, that the Premier League has ever had the fortune to witness – and for me to be able to acknowledge that, he really must have done something pretty special. In contrast to Drogba, Ronaldo has shown total commitment to United, not that he’d need to whore himself in the press as long as United keep him happy anyway. But he’s been a reliable source of goals, he’s delivered pretty much what is expected of him and more – consistently – and much of this has to be down to staying upright. Whilst still prone to the odd stamp of the feet – once he’s got up off the floor – the difference now is that it’s more often than not a foul that’s put him there. He may still have the odd lapse, but he wouldn’t come close to Drogba in the run up to the Oscar’s this year.