Drogba: My best is yet to come
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has warned the rest of the Premier League they have yet to see him at his best.
The Côte d’Ivoire forward stepped up his recovery from groin surgery with a 30-minute cameo in the 3-1 Community Shield defeat to Manchester United at Wembley. While Drogba accepts the Chelsea squad - many of whom have just returned to training after the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ - still have some work to do in terms of reaching full match fitness, the 32-year-old feels his long-standing injury niggle is now in the past.
"It was a hernia, and for the last six years I have been struggling with it," said Drogba, who collected the golden boot last season with 29 goals. "I couldn't really work, it was difficult sometimes for me to play some games. I also had to miss some training sessions. Now I am really happy because it has gone and I feel more free. No more tension in the abductors. You know it is really good for me. I am really happy that I had it (surgery)."
Drogba, who joined Chelsea in a £24m deal from Marseille in 2004, continued: "I learned how to play with it, how to deal with it. Sometimes last year I needed some tablets to play. Now I am not even asking. It is a good feeling.
"I had to adapt my game to it, so now maybe I will have to change my game again. I don't know if I can do better than last year, but the thing is I will feel better, more free in my movements on the pitch. I will feel much better and will be happy to have the same season as last year."
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti insists there is no major cause for concern despite Chelsea suffering a fourth consecutive pre-season defeat as they build towards the visit of newly-promoted West Brom to Stamford Bridge this weekend. However, with so many of the senior squad having been away on extended breaks after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while the likes of Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel are coming back from long-term injuries, Drogba admits there is still some hard work ahead.
"We have a lot of players who have only been in training for one week, ten days, so it's too short to be fit to be ready for the big competitions," he said. "But we have to improve our game and in two weeks or three weeks' time it will be better."
Chelsea are understood to be close to completing the £22m signing of Benfica's Brazil midfielder Ramires, but so far Yossi Benayoun is the only senior player Chelsea have added to their squad this summer, while both Joe Cole and Michael Ballack have left. Drogba, though, insists there is already enough strength in depth for the Blues to mount another sustained assault on both domestic and European honours next season.
"The squad is the same as last year and the quality is still there," he said. "If there are more players coming then that will be good for us because it will improve the level of the team, but if not then we know that we will have the quality to go very far in all competitions."
Goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to be fit from his calf injury in time to face West Brom, but Ancelotti could yet consider bringing in more back-up, after neither Hilario nor Ross Turnbull impressed consistently during pre-season, with Stoke's Asmir Begovic said to be on the Italian's radar.
Drogba has himself been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City. However, the striker declared: "You saw me wearing the Chelsea shirt [at Wembley] and I think that is how you are going to see me all season."