Didier Drogba promises happier new year with Shanghai Shenhua

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 3:17am


Three coaches, boardroom upheaval and a reported players' strike: Didier Drogba's first season in China has not exactly been smooth. But it looks likely he will stick around next year.

Speculation about Drogba's future has been intense, but the Ivorian striker appeared committed to the Chinese Super League when he spoke of making a fresh start with the club.

"Because I joined Shenhua relatively late, I didn't prepare with the team early in the season, so our results this year were not very good," he said.

"But I hope next season I can start again from the beginning with Shenhua."

Drogba has scored eight goals in 11 games since joining his former Chelsea colleague Nicolas Anelka in Shanghai mid-season.

But despite his prolific record, Shenhua finished a lowly ninth out of 16 teams.

It is a disappointing return after the club's owner, the video game mogul Zhu Jun, splashed out on Anelka and Drogba in a bid to land Shenhua's first title in nearly a decade.

After a season of serious internal strife, it is something of a surprise that both players are still at the club.

Zhu said his fellow owners had promised him a majority stake because of his heavy investment, and he threatened to withhold the foreign players' salaries unless they handed it over.

Drogba and Anelka missed several games towards the end of the season, apparently due to injury, but many fans drew a link between their absence and the ownership dispute, which is still dragging on.

The team's unconvincing form was also cause for tension, with Drogba smashing furniture in the dressing room, according to mainland media reports, after a draw with local rivals Shanghai Shenxin in September.

Drogba, who spoke of raising the league's profile and even improving ties between China and Africa when he arrived in Shanghai, seems to have taken it in his stride, and is a huge hit with fans.

After scoring in the final game of the season, a 3-0 win over Qingdao Jonoon, he signed off with a promise to return next year. "Wait for me, I'll be back," Drogba said.