Chelsea drop Drogba for FA Cup tie

Drogba has been linked with a move to Inter MilanDidier Drogba’s Chelsea future may be hanging in the balance after he was dropped from the squad for Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay at Southend.

The 30-year-old striker is the first major casualty following the 3-0 defeat by Manchester United on Sunday.

“All the players have had their chance. I have given every player at least five or six games to impress,” said Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

“I will give them their chance and I need answers.”

This season, Ivory Coast forward Drogba, who has been linked with a move to Inter Milan, has looked a shadow of the player he once was.

Drogba has scored 83 goals in all competitions for Chelsea since joining the Blues in 2004 but has found the net only three times in 17 games during the current campaign and is not even a member of the travelling squad to Roots Hall.

Scolari will recall current Premier League top scorer Nicolas Anelka, who has not started the past three games, against Southend.

“I have looked at many games with Anelka and at the last few with Didier,” stated Scolari.

“I have my opinion and I will put my opinion on the pitch every game.

“Now we will start with one team against Southend United and maybe I will start with the same team against Stoke.

“If I have given players only one chance then maybe some of the players will complain that they have only had one opportunity.

“But when I have given four or five chances then there is no room for questions, it is my decision to play this or that player, and finish.”

Scolari has also given a damning verdict on his side’s ability to win silverwear this season.

“If you ask me if this team are ready to win things, then no,” conceded the former Brazil coach.

“They are not ready to win a trophy and they know this. They might not say things publicly but they know we are not ready.

“In the last five games we played at 50% of our potential, no more than this. Some players have been at 75 to 80%, while others have been at 35-40% but the balance for our team in the last five games has been 50%.

“Sometimes they make mistakes because they are not in a good condition but not because they do not want to play.

“If this happened then they would be finished. I am a good man but I am not a fool.”

Scolari took the blame squarely on his own shoulders for Chelsea’s loss at Manchester United on Sunday but said everyone at the club must now pull together if they are to bounce back.

“We need more to work together and when it is wrong we need more togetherness,” he said.

The damaging defeat left Chelsea four points adrift of league leaders Liverpool and only a point ahead of United, who have two games in hand over their title rivals.

“I understand people now don’t have a very good opinion about me because we lost a game 3-0 against Manchester United. I know this but in my opinion, I am doing a good job,” insisted Scolari.

The defeat extended the Blues’ current run of only three victories in their past 11 games in all competitions.

It has also raised questions in the press about Scolari’s position in west London.

However, BBC sports editor Mihir Bose believes there is no chance of the Brazilian being sacked.

“Scolari’s position, the Chelsea hierarchy insists, is not in jeopardy,” said Bose.

“But it is recognised that Scolari cannot carry on as he has so far.

“What Scolari needs to do, say insiders, is be tough with the players. Show them who is boss.

“One well-placed source told me: ‘He has allowed his players to get on top of him. He needs to show he runs the team not the players, however well paid they may be or however high profile’.”

Scolari knows how important it is to turn around all of the negative publicity over the past few days and is confident his side will progress in the FA Cup.

“It’s the FA Cup. If our spirit is not the same as Southend’s, then it’s difficult, but if our spirit is the same then we have good chance because we have better players than Southend,” he commented.