Personally, I can’t say anything on the veracity (or otherwise) of the press reports about Drogba’s discontent, but I imagine that he’s feeling a little unsure with the club’s chase of some other top quality strikers. Kevin McCarra actually first reported this in The Guardian of Wednesday, May 17, 2006 without any direct quote, but I believed him because he’s by and large a credible journalist, even though he’s sometimes very biased against Mourinho and Chelsea in his commentaries. Looking at the latter report from The Sun (which is the one being reported by other media now), the direct quotes are minimal, but the idea is clear. Didier is reported to be unhappy with the criticisms he’d received and for that reason he wants to leave for Serie A of all places. If this is true, it is a daft, daft idea, not only because of the instability in Serie A, but I just can’t see him having a better prospect there, because I doubt his game is suited to that league.
At any rate, whatever the truth of the reports, I think Mourinho handled it well. He didn’t pick up the phone to speak with Drogba or his agent to find out the truth, because he knows it would be denied by them outright. While it would be temporary relief to get Drogba to issue a statement through the club that he’d said no such thing, Mourinho knows that if this is indeed true, he would only be postponing the inevitable. He knows that once these players report to their national camps or are out of Chelsea for a break, their agents engage in all kinds of mischief. In Drogba’s case, this might be for two reasons – (1) knowing that a contract extension/renegotiation would be coming up within the coming season, this is a way to strengthen his negotiating position and (2) it is a way to test the club’s commitment to keep him as they’re in the market for top quality strikers.
Mourinho simply took the newspaper story as true and responded toughly to send the message that we are no soft touch. The message isn’t to Drogba himself, but to his agent and handlers. Mourinho has been talking recently more and more about “the power of the clubs” and today, clubs don’t come bigger than Chelsea. He’s made it clear since the fallout with Carvalho that any player who thinks they’d be allowed to go simply because they’ve expressed an intention to leave must have another think coming (even though ordinarily, he wouldn’t want to keep an unhappy player). Now, Mourinho and the club have showed with their response to Gallas and Drogba that we are not playthings of greedy agents. Mourinho has simply thrown their mischief back at them. He knows there is no smoke without fire, but he isn’t prepared to be drawn into it when his focus is on who we can bring in this summer, not who wants to leave.
As things are, we’ve achieved better results in the transfer market so far than any other club. We’ve signed a big, big name and performer in Ballack and we’ve announced those we’re ready to offload or loan out. Gallas and Drogba aren’t amongst them, so they better keep off the pages of the newspapers and get themselves mentally ready for the challenge when the campaign starts. Agents and their players can go on with their mischief, Chelsea remain unmoved. Personally, I don’t care whether Drogba goes or stays; I don’t care whether Gallas goes or stays. I’m pleased Joe Cole is signing a new deal; I’m pleased that Frank is not even contemplating going anywhere and I’m happy Terry is happy. At the end of the day, I want to look at the Chelsea squad the day before the season kicks off and say yeah, we have a team to compete with the best from anywhere, no matter who stays or goes.