Didier Drogba was so infuriated with his team-mates lack-luster display in Shenhua’s 1-1 derby draw with Shanghai Shenxin on Saturday that he smashed a wooden locker in frustration, according to local media reports.
The match, saw Shenhua take on a local rival badly lacking the same kind of investment in the playing squad which the Hongkou side enjoy, and before the game Drogba appealed to his team-mates to guide the team to its first away victory since he joined over two months ago.
A figure inside the club told Shanghai Online news portal, that Drogba convened a brief team meeting as the players were preparing to enter the field of play. “We haven’t won an away game since I joined Shenhua, we must change this situation tonight for me, for you and for all those who support Shenhua!”
Drogba not only exhorted his team-mates verbally before the match, he took matters into his own hands by scoring a 15th minute goal which saw his side go in one goal up at half-time.
According to reports, Drogba again urged his team-mates at half-time, “No matter what you do, don’t be careless, 1-0 is absolutely not a safe lead, we need to continue attacking in the second half and find a way to make our lead bigger as soon as possible, remember, if we let a team which is fighting relegation equalize, this will encourage them to double their efforts.”
The report also quoted an un-named Shenhua player who admitted that Drogba’s warning was a pertinent one as it came to pass, as Shenhua fell apart in the second half. He admitted that unlike when Shenhua fell behind in its previous away fixtures to Guangzhou R&F, Guangzhou Evergrande and Shandong Luneng, this time the team didn’t mange to motivate itself to score again.
After the match finished 1-1, Drogba lived up to his “devil beast” nickname in China by returning to the locker room to lambast his team-mates “0-0, 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, why can’t be ever win a game away from home? This game we easily could have won, who can tell me why we didn’t win?”
The team’s in interpreter translated the diatribe into Chinese, but no-one was able to offer Drogba any explanation. The powerfully built striker then disappeared into an adjacent room and smashed a wooden cupboard with his bare fists. First team coach Sergio Batista was present during the angry scenes, but he remained silent at Drogba’s furious outburst.
Shenhua owner Zhu Jun said on his Weibo, “Soft collapse, deserved not to win” indicating he was no less pleased with the outcome than his multi-million signing Drogba. Another Shenhua board member told the news portal that he didn’t understand why some Shenhua’s players did not run harder in the match and why they lacked Drogba’s desire to win, adding he hoped Drogba would wake-up these under-performing squad members.
Another unnamed Shenhua player was quoted by the media as admitting a period of “self-rectification” was necessary on the part of some team-members.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015