Chelsea forward Didier Drogba finished his season on a high by scoring the winner in the FA Cup final against Potsmouth, but why hasn’t the Ivorian been considered as a stronger contender for the PFA or Football Writers’ Association player of the year awards?
Whilst I am not suggesting that Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney does not deserve the award after the fantastic season he has had, I am surprised that he has managed to win the individual awards so comfortably (according to the Independent 81% of the votes for the FWA awards, which is a landslide).
Rooney has scored 34 goals in all competitions and many argue that he has single handily led the challenge for the Red Devils’ title charge, which they ended up losing out to Chelsea by a solitary point. But has he really been that much better than Drogba?
I don’t think he has been that much better and the Ivory Coast captain, who has scored three more goals than Rooney this term in the same 44 appearances (in all competitions), despite having the distraction of the African Cup of Nations in the middle of the season. Drogba has scored against the best of them too as he has netted goals against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal this season helping his side have a perfect head-to-head record with last season’s top four.
Not only has the 32-year-old scored a host of goals, but variety of them too including: right foot, left foot, headed, long range, tap-ins, a penalty and has added an impressive free kick technique to his repertoire (which was last on show during Wembley’s final on Sunday).
Drogba of course does not endear himself to people as in the past he has been guilty of feigning injury, going down too easily and has shown acts of petulance on numerous occasions, the latest being the strop he threw when he was not allowed to take the penalty on the final day of the season to put Chelsea 2-0 up against Wigan. The forward went on to score a hat-trick in the same game which was not only perfect (left foot, right foot and head) but it was also flawless as the three goals came in-a-row.
Admittedly the guy is temperamental and capable of throwing an almighty sulk, but why is his contribution to the team continuously understated?
We have talked about Drogba’s joy in front of goal, but what about his assist record compared to Rooney? In the Premier League the Chelsea man laid on 13 goals for his team mates compared to Rooney’s five. Probably Drogba’s most impressive assist was for compatriot Salomon Kalou against Stoke in a 7-0 victory, the touch to bring the ball down was sublime and the cross went into the corridor of uncertainty leading to a simple finish for his team mate.
It isn’t just in the attacking quarters that Carlo Ancelotti and previous Chelsea managers have found that the Ivorian is pretty adept when it comes to set-pieces due to his size, strength and aerial prowess in attacking the ball, he probably does this better than any other centre forward at the moment and it has become an invaluable asset for his team.
Some people may argue that he has been surrounded by more quality than Wayne Rooney this season and whilst I would agree with that the PFA awards suggest that he hasn’t as Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda were omitted in favour of Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia. However, the PFA’s awards should be taken with a pinch of salt as Ryan Giggs won the top award last season on a sentimentality vote when Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard (rightly honoured by the football writers last season) was the more deserving player.
I am not suggesting that Rooney does not deserve the award but I believe he may have been heavily favoured due to his nationality and the fact that Drogba is labelled by the media, fans and pundits as a diving man-child, whereas any act of petulance from the England man is called a passionate reaction.
Congratulations to Rooney, who deserves it as he has been world class, but Drogba has been a lot better than people have made out and also world class. Many may disagree with what I have said and that is fine, but this is my tribute to Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and the fantastic and historic season he has enjoyed at the club.
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