Didier Drogba has joined Guus Hiddink in criticising training under former Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. The striker agreed that players are not fit enough. "We feel it," he said. "We get heavy-legged. All of us on the pitch – you can see it was difficult for us to carry ourselves from our half to the opponents in the second period and we know we have to improve."
Asked why Chelsea are not in better shape at such a crucial stage of the season, he added: "I don't know. You will have to ask the fitness coach and I am not one." Following Scolari's dismissal his nephew, Darlan Schneider, who was in charge of players' fitness, but also took on coaching duties, also left. There was growing concern about the methods used by the pair, which are believed to have lacked intensity.
Interestingly Hiddink has overseen a more strenuous training programme after being shocked by what he has inherited at Stamford Bridge. It is understood the players have welcomed the more intense approach.
The concerns over Scolari's more laid-back approach have been around for some time and it is also interesting that since his departure Drogba – who was banished to train away from the first-team at one stage – has started all three matches and grown in influence.
At the same time it is clear that Hiddink has laid down stricter ground-rules for the players and for Drogba, and Nicolas Anelka, in particular. Both have responded – Anelka scoring the winner against Aston Villa last Saturday with Drogba the match-winner against Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Scolari did not believe the pair could operate together but Hiddink has tried to make the partnership work. "Each player knows what they have to do and we did that," Drogba said when asked about the more disciplined approach.
That has extended to his behaviour. Drogba had several penalty appeals correctly turned down but did not complain, for example. "You learn from your mistakes and I know I had to stay calm," he said. "I have made mistakes in the past but I will get another chance because we have the second leg against them."
Drogba's fellow Ivorian, Salomon Kalou, meanwhile, says it would be an "honour" to play for Arsène Wenger. The Arsenal manager inquired about Kalou last summer and it is understood that the striker is unsettled at Chelsea. There has also been some tentative interest from Liverpool.
"Wenger said he thought of signing me? That's an honour for me, an honour," Kalou said. "Because he is a very great coach and I know that every single player in the world dreams of playing for him. I have a lot of respect for him, he is one of the best coaches in the world, so why not?"Reuse content