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?
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Life and Style

The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes

Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear

Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game