Drogba’s departure eclipses routine win for league champions
Chelsea clock third-highest points tally in club’s history after comeback victory
Chelsea’s Ivorian striker Didier Drogba after yesterday’s game with Sunderland, following which Chelsea were officially crowned the 2014-2015 Premier League champions. Photograph: Ben Stansall/ AFP
The achievement was rightly celebrated with gusto; players and staff parading with their families amid the ticker-tape as Madness blared out over the public address system. José Mourinho flung his winner’s medal to his daughter, Matilde, and offered eight fingers to the cameras, the tally of league titles he has secured at four clubs and as many countries.
Drogba, crowned by the lid of the trophy, took the microphone and mentioned the absent Frank Lampard, a scorer for Manchester City on his final appearance in English football at the distant Etihad.
The joyous delirium gave Drogba and, most likely, Petr Cech fitting send-offs after glittering careers in these parts. The Ivorian, as befits a player of his charisma, hogged the limelight in a last-day win of which he played barely 28 minutes.
It took two minutes for Drogba to depart, the entire coaching staff and the sporting director, Michael Emenalo, waiting on the touchline to clap hands with the striker. The theatre had been pre-arranged and cleared with Sunderland’s Dick Advocaat before kick-off. It gave the occasion the feel of a testimonial, although some players warrant such adulation.
“He was part of the ‘other’ team,” said Mourinho, a reference to the 2005 Premier League title-winners, eight of whom had joined Cech, Drogba and John Terry on the pitch before kick-off to mark that achievement. “But he also belongs to this new Chelsea. For these players to know him, train with him, live with him, play with him, share with him is fantastic. He was very, very good for these young people. They learned from a good example.”
His replacement, Diego Costa, duly hauled the hosts level with his 20th league goal of an impressive first campaign in English football from the penalty spot after John O’Shea tripped Cuadrado. Another substitute, Loïc Rémy, scored twice after the interval to ensure the third-highest points tally in this club’s history.
For Cech, an awkward decision awaits. He may already have determined the time is right to move on, 11 years since he arrived in southwest London, after a frustrating season largely spent playing understudy to Thibaut Courtois.
Sunderland, too, have issues to address. Advocaat’s achievement in staving off relegation was impressive and there is a clamour for him to stay on and instigate the overhaul the Dutchman admits is necessary. Guardian Service