Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has his back at suggestions by Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez that he is a serial diver.
Speaking on the eve of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final second leg encounter against Chelsea, Benitez claimed to have compiled a four-year dossier of Drogba’s ‘diving’ antics.
Drogba believes the Spaniard’s comments were intended to destabilise Chelsea ahead of tonight’s game and intends to respond to the slight on the pitch.
“Perhaps he is looking for something to destabilise us before the match,” said Drogba.
“Benítez was a manager I respected a lot. Until now, I found him not only very competent but also classy. But he has really disappointed me here. His words demonstrate a weakness. A top manager would never go so low to attack a player. Maybe he should concentrate on his own team’s game and if he wants me to stay on my feet, maybe he should tell his defenders to stop hitting me.
“In the first leg, Carragher and the other one [Skrtel] didn’t stop. And not just with me,” he said. “I finished the match with bruises everywhere. Last year, I broke a rib against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. Strangely, that escapes the statistics of Benítez. It will not affect me. If I fall, I will always get up. The best response I can give will be on the pitch.”
Drogba insists that Chelsea not be undermined by internal tensions. The striker clashed with team-mate Michael Ballack over who should take a second-half free-kick against Manchester United at the weekend, but claims it is all forgotten now.
“There was a lot of tension and emotion on the pitch, it was a big match and we clashed,” Drogba told L’Equipe. “These things happen and five minutes later, everything was forgotten. Ballack is someone I really appreciate, as a player and as a man. He is Chelsea’s most important player at the moment.”