x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Drogba gets bark back

It is just what Chelsea wanted - and needed - as they remain upbeat about their chances of success this season.

Drogba, right, scored the winner against Portsmouth.
Drogba, right, scored the winner against Portsmouth.

It is just what Chelsea wanted - and needed - as they remain upbeat about their chances of success this season. The sight of a surly and stroppy Drogba seems to be a thing of the past since the arrival of Guus Hiddink in the Stamford Bridge hot seat.

Smiles have replaced scowls and Drogba feels there is still more to come after his fifth goal of the season ended the resistance of Portsmouth on Tuesday. "Not yet," he said, when questioned if he was back to his best form. "I think the most important thing for me is to be on the pitch and to try to improve this lack of fitness. I enjoy being on the pitch, it has been a long time so I am really happy and try to appreciate every minute. Every time there is a new manager you want to show that you can play and be part of the team.

"You have not seen me on the pitch for a while so it is easy to see I am happy." A fit and firing Drogba will certainly enhance Chelsea's slim chances of overhauling Manchester United at the top of the Premier League and going further in the FA Cup and Champions League. The victory at a wet and windy Fratton Park was the fourth in succession under Hiddink, and Drogba said the Dutchman had helped him enjoy his football again.

He ran to the bench to celebrate his finish, something his manager described as an "emotional explosion" after a campaign riddled with disappointment. But Drogba paid his own tribute as he added: "He [Hiddink] is a winner. All the managers I had are winners and want to win games so after that is little details and he has something special. "He is confident and we try to follow him. He put me in the squad and said to me, 'play'." Hiddink is pleased with the attitude of his players. "What is good in this team, is that they react when there are difficulties," he said. "They challenge each other and it is very open. It shows the team are not fed up and have desire."

Paul Hart will be given the job of trying to pull Portsmouth clear of relegation with the club confirming he and Brian Kidd will be in temporary charge until the end of the season. The striker David Nugent said: "It's great news. I'm sure we will stay in the Premier League with them in charge." @Email:akhan@thenational.ae