”When he’s at his best, he’s an unbelievable player. He’s big, strong, he scores goals – left foot, right foot, headers – and at times he is unplayable. But sometimes he seems as if his head’s not quite there.” The words of Manchester United striker, Wayne Rooney, describing Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba.
In the light of Drogba’s positive reaction to ill advised comments from Rafael Benitez, before the Champions League semi-final, it’s an interesting strategy from Rooney and Manchester United. ‘He seems as if his head is not quite there’.
If this is part of a well thought-out, deliberate mind-games strategy, from Sir Alex Ferguson, then he must presume, that the comments from Rooney will rile Drogba. Rile him, so that he doesn’t play his natural game, and tries too hard to rub the remarks back in Rooney’s face.
Even if this is not a deliberate strategy, then it’s a high risk comment to make. Drogba proved at Stamford Bridge against Liverpool, that he is a man, that, when focused and motivated, can be the unbelievable player that Wayne Rooney describes. This is someone, who after all, brought peace to the warring Ivory Coast.
Rooney won’t know until Wednesday night, if his remarks have sparked Drogba into a match-winning performance. But, with a talent as potent as the Ivorian’s, maybe it is better to maintain a dignified silence, when asked to comment on him. That way, he has to trigger his own motivation.
Rafael Benitez made the mistake of mis-reading Drogba’s psychology. His error should serve as a warning to Manchester United. But maybe they think they know Drogba better than the Spaniard. Wednesday night, will reveal how perceptive Sir Alex Ferguson has been.
Note: The fact that United defender Nemanja Vidic, has also added comments about Drogba’s play-acting, suggest that this is a deliberate strategy by United. With the players making these remarks, not the management, it is presumed that Drogba will over-react to a tackle or challenge, from either of these United players.
Further Note: All of this United attention on Didier Drogba, would suggest that they are concerned about his goal-threat.