Drogba confident that balance of youth and experience will carry Chelsea to more glory
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 13 May 2010
Chelsea's squad may be top heavy with players approaching the wrong end of their careers, but Didier Drogba, one of those the far side of 30, believes they have the ideal "balance" to add trophies beyond this season's Premier League.
Down the core of the side, the Ivorian is 32, the same age as Frank Lampard, while John Terry turns 30 in the opening months of next season. Nicolas Anelka and Michael Ballack are 31 and 33 respectively. Ricardo Carvalho and Deco, both over 30, are to depart Stamford Bridge this summer as Carlo Ancelotti seeks to freshen his squad.
"I would say the team is not getting old, it's getting a lot of experience," said Drogba ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Portsmouth. "When you see Inter Milan I think their team are all about 37! And they are in the Champions League final. It doesn't really affect the team, it's more about the confidence and knowing you can play well. Of course you will lose some games because we are not 25 but it's the right balance to find between young players who are 17 or 18 and older players. There's a right balance to find and I think we've found it."
Drogba, who scored 29 goals in 31 league games this season, says he is at the peak of his game. "I really feel season after season I'm getting better," he said. "I'm not Messi, I'm not Cristiano Ronaldo but I have my own qualities."
Chelsea may have collected the third Premier League title of the Roman Abramovich era and be one win from their first ever double, but the one he really wants has once again eluded the club. "We want to win the Champions League so much that we sometimes forget to play and put ourselves under a lot of pressure," said Drogba. "If the Champions League wants to come to Chelsea, if one day we are going to win it then I think one day we'll win it. But we have to take out all the pressure we put on ourselves. Of course we want to win everything but the best way to win it is to think about it but not too much."
Drogba and Anelka enjoyed a fruitful campaign together, but he would be more than happy to see any striking additions to the squad during the close season, especially someone of the ability of Fernando Torres, whose future at Liverpool remains open to question. Drogba said: "Of course. Every time there is a new player coming here it's making the club bigger and giving us a lot of strength. If there is a chance for him to come he will be welcome."
Drogba has been at Stamford Bridge for six years since arriving from Marseilles and has never been happier in his career. "My relationship with the fans, with the team is something really unbelievable. We have been together a long time. I am home."
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