Roberto Di Matteo comes to defence of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba

 

Roberto Di Matteo today insisted there was no need to "have a word" with Didier Drogba about his antics in Chelsea's Champions League win over Barcelona.

Caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo revealed Drogba picked up a genuine injury in Wednesday night's semi-final first leg that has left him in a race against time to be fit for Tuesday's return match.

Drogba was hailed and castigated in almost equal measure after his Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in midweek that saw him score the winner but also roll around theatrically several times after being challenged.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed this morning he had "had a word" with Ashley Young about the winger's own tendency to go down easily, but suggested what went on at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday was much worse.

Asked if he would have a similar conversation with Drogba, Di Matteo said: "No, because I don't see any reason why I should have a conversation like that.

"Our players, I think, are fair players. Everybody has his own style but I think we are a fair team."

Drogba was accused of trying to run down the clock on Wednesday and former referee Graham Poll has warned the officials on Tuesday night may have that in mind.

Di Matteo said: "He was marked most of time by two men and I think got a lot of physical battering as well on the night.

"We have to be objective about our opinions as well."

Confirming Drogba suffered a knee injury on Wednesday and would miss tomorrow's Barclays Premier League game at Arsenal - a match he probably would have been rested for anyway - Di Matteo admitted he did not know whether the 34-year-old would be back for the trip to the Nou Camp.

"We have to assess him tomorrow and Sunday and how he recovers," he said.

"He got pushed and kicked around quite a lot in the game on Wednesday."

Meanwhile, Drogba's agent has claimed the striker's recent heroics would convince Chelsea to bow to his contract demands.

Drogba looked certain to quit the Blues this summer after they refused to offer him more than a one-year extension to his current deal, which expires at the end of the season.

The Ivory Coast star has been heavily linked with a lucrative move to Shanghai Shenhua - who former Stamford Bridge team-mate Nicolas Anelka joined in January - as well as clubs from France, the United States and the Middle East.

But agent Thierno Seidy was confident Chelsea would now pull out all the stops to keep Drogba after his goals this week helped lead them to the FA Cup final and to the brink of the Champions League final.

Seidy told L'Equipe: "Talks are going on with executive director (Ron Gourlay), and we will take stock with him before the end of the season.

"I believe what Didier is currently showing will lead the club to a new thought.

"Didier loves Chelsea and he wants to stay, but if things have to happen another way, he will leave. This time, we can make the decision by ourselves.

"Didier will be a free agent at the end of the season, so he is master of his own fate to sign his last contract."

Seidy ruled out Drogba staying in England if he did quit Chelsea.

He said: "We have a lot of offers from everywhere.

"But one thing is for sure, if Didier will play in England next season, it will be at Chelsea and nowhere else."

Di Matteo, who has repeatedly insisted he has no input over transfers, said of Drogba's future: "That's a conversation that will happen with the club.

"That has nothing really to do with myself."

PA

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own