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Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Sunday, 18 May 2008 15:43 UK

Drogba 'mind games' concern Vidic

Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic
Rooney and Vidic have criticised Drogba's antics

Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic has turned up the heat ahead of the Champions League final by accusing Chelsea's Didier Drogba of play-acting.

"Sometimes he goes in very strong, and sometimes he pretends he is very weak," Vidic said ahead of Wednesday's final.

"He plays with your mind and tries to make you think about the next tackle."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez claimed he had a dossier on the Ivorian's 'diving' before their semi-final with Chelsea last month.

It provoked Drogba into producing a match-winning performance in the Champions League semi-finals following Benitez's comments.

Sometimes he seems as if his head's not quite there

Wayne Rooney on Didier Drogba

And while Vidic expressed his respect for Drogba's abilities, the centre-back warned that Wednesday's referee will need to pay close attention to his antics.

He told the Sunday Times: "He can pretend he fell down to win a penalty, but referees know that. The Champions League final is a big game and I'm sure the ref will know his job."

Striker Wayne Rooney also risked a Drogba backlash by calling his temperament into question.

"Sometimes he seems as if his head's not quite there," Rooney said.

"But when he's at his best, he's an unbelievable player. He's big, strong, he scores goals - left foot, right foot, headers - at times he is unplayable."

Vidic, meanwhile, refused to blame Drogba for an incident which saw him leave the field with concussion after the striker's knee hit him the head in the Premier League last month.

"I don't protect myself. I leave myself too open for players to kick me or hurt me.


"I'm not saying they want to - it just happens - but maybe I need to work on my protection. I want to win the ball and don't care how and maybe because of that I get hurt.

"Everyone puts me among the hardest players, and says forwards when they play me need to protect themselves, but that's not true.

"I don't try to hurt people and I don't want to go around saying I'm tough. I go in aggressive, yes, and try to win every ball, but I'm not anything special."

see also
Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (4-3)
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Blues trio set to play in final
17 May 08 |  Chelsea
Are you Moscow bound?
13 May 08 |  Talking Point

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