Hiddink makes Drogba 'positioning' clear

Coventry City 0 Chelsea 2

While the bulk of the focus would fall on the bulk of Didier Drogba and the rejuvenation of a match-winner that is proving so timely for Chelsea, one comment from his manager was left to drift away in the Midlands air. "There are still some things he needs to improve," said Guus Hiddink.

It was inevitable that the veiled criticism would go largely unnoticed, particularly when the Dutchman began to croon about the Ivorian "working very hard from the first day I saw him". During the Luiz Felipe Scolari reign, Drogba and hard graft on the training pitch supposedly went together like Ashley Cole and photographers outside nightclubs.

Now, the old Drog is apparently happy to learn new tricks and that is obviously a headline in itself. But the fact that Hiddink thinks Drogba is in need of "extra training" surely is an entire story in itself and hints at Scolari not being all wrong. After all, it is not conditioning work the 30-year-old is staying behind for, but rather that of technique. "It is a specific programme on his positioning," revealed Hiddink. "We do some specific work on when he gets deliveries, crosses, passes and his mobility. It is focused on his position and on what is demanded in the game."

Of course, Drogba (right) has never been the classical centre-forward in the mould of, say, a Nicolas Anelka but what he has lost in this regard he has always made up for with his outrageous physicality, something Coventry would acknowledge after he scored his third goal in four games. Yet Hiddink clearly wants more from his controversial striker and more to the point, Drogba wants to give it.

With Anelka likely to miss tomorrow night's examination with a toe injury in Turin, then, this new, improved Didier will clearly be all- important. Certainly, Petr Cech sees the front man as crucial in their mission to convert their 1-0 advantage from the first leg into a quarter-final place in the Champions League. "He's such a strong guy and we can rely on him," said the goalkeeper. "We can use the long ball and he'll hold it up. It is a big boost for the team to have someone like this."

As it is a big boost to have Michael Essien back, the holding midfielder who fits into the "Makelele" role far more comfortably than John Obi Mikel. Hiddink confessed that he has a decision to make whether to start him against Juventus, although he did stress concerns about the Ghanaian's "game rhythm" following a six-month absence with a knee injury. Alas, Essien did not manage to gain much from his 25 minutes on Saturday as this poor FA Cup sixth-round tie had a depressing paucity of rhythm.

The Coventry manager, Chris Coleman, turned up vowing to bang the drum for the Championship but in the event all Coventry managed to beat was their brains out as they laboured in vain to find a way through the Blue wall. It was Hiddink's fifth win in his fifth game, a record start for a Chelsea manager.

For his part, Coleman will probably receive a call from the disciplinarians following his comments about Steve Bennett. The Welshman accused the referee of being "too friendly with the Chelsea players", of "being too smug with my senior players" and of generally allowing the awe he felt for the star names to influence his decisions. "He only just stopped short of asking them for their autographs," said Coleman.

In truth, that is a charge he could have directed towards his own players, especially in a first quarter in which they stood off their opponents, so allowing them into a comfort zone out of which they were destined never to be prised. Despite Drogba's classy finish, the opener could be put down to a defensive howler and while they could be excused for the breakaway second goal, their collective effort in between and thereafter did not nearly emulate the passion of the capacity crowd.

It was a bad day for Coventry all round as Crystal Palace's victory saw them drop further below halfway in the Championship table. After the romance comes the reality.

Goals: Drogba (15) 0-1; Alex (72) 0-2.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Wright, Dann, Turner, Hall; Eastwood, Gunnarsson, Doyle (Beuzelin, 59), Henderson; Best, Morrison. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Ward, Osbourne, McPake, Simpson, Thornton.

Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A Cole; Mikel (Essien, 65); Kalou (Quaresma, h-t), Lampard, Ballack, Malouda; Drogba (Di Santo, 80). Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Carvalho, Belletti, Mancienne.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Coventry Beuzelin.

Man of the match: Drogba.

Attendance: 31,407.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent