Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon says it is “ludicrous” that the club’s veteran stars have been dismissed as past their best this season.
Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and John Terry were all held culpable as the Blues’ season seemingly lurched towards disaster.
Drogba, 34, and Lampard, 33, attracted the bulk of the criticism.
“They are still capable of some amazing performances, as they have proved in the last couple of months” – Kerry Dixon
Both were often sidelined by former manager Andre Villas-Boas – part of as his apparent desperation to bring about speedy revolution and move on from the Jose Mourinho years.
And both were widely written off in the media as too old, and seemed destined to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
But the Blues old boys – and Lampard and Drogba in particular – have played pivotal roles in the remarkable resurgence under interim boss Roberto di Matteo.
Dixon told West London Sport it was laughable that Lampard, who with 186 goals is closing in on Dixon’s club-record tally of 193, was so quickly consigned to the scrap heap.
“How can Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs still be considered brilliant at 37 and Frank Lampard is too old at the age of 33? It’s ludicrous,” Dixon said.
“Talk of Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and John Terry being past their best is ridiculous. They are still capable of some amazing performances, as they have proved in the last couple of months.
“Some of the performances have been brilliant. All of them seem to have improved – each and every one of them.
“Ashley Cole has played some amazing games, Petr Cech has been superb and JT and Didier have been immense at times. Everyone has contributed.”
Drogba has returned to some of his best form, reminiscent of the battering ram of a striker who has so terrorised defences since signing in 2004.
The Ivorian scored the telling goal in Saturday’s FA Cup triumph over Liverpool, as well as the winner in the Champions League semi-final victory over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.
And Lampard has been equally effective, once again leading the Chelsea goalscoring charts.
The principal reason for the turnaround in fortunes is quite simple, according to Dixon. Namely the man who has taken over from AVB and is now a very real contender to land the job on a full-time basis.
“Robbie Di Matteo seems to have had a totally different approach to his players and how they have been treated and they have responded,” Dixon said.
“The man at the top (Roman Abramovich) wanted the players to play for the club and they seem to have realised that now.
“The transformation has been massive. It’s been a wonderful end to the season.”
One more huge performance and result against Bayern on 19 May and a wonderful end to the season becomes a truly sensational finale.