If thereÃ¢ÂÂs one piece of media work that deserves a bit of credit this week, itÃ¢ÂÂs Chelsea choosing to reveal only now that Didier Drogba has had malaria for a month (and that heÃ¢ÂÂs better now).
A month. Do you know how long that is in football? It can be measured only by being broken down into headlines and column inches: somewhere in the region of 17,000 hours spent writing and reading them, all on the subject of malaria.
If, that is, DrogbaÃ¢ÂÂs malaria woe had been revealed a month ago, at the start of his battle. Oh, imagine the press coverage if Fleet Street had known straightaway.
We would have had appeals for charity from one camp, accusations of disease-bringing foreigners from the other. "Bobby Charlton never got malaria," sniffs a tabloid columnist, "and if he had heÃ¢ÂÂd have played on like the pro he was Ã¢ÂÂ he once scored a hat-trick while clinically dead."
Meanwhile, weÃ¢ÂÂre treated to a history of malaria in football, lists showing The Greatest Footballers With Names That Are Anagrams Of Malaria and a debate over whether the English national football teamÃ¢ÂÂs fortunes could improve if they were exposed to life-threatening diseases more often. "Is malaria a serious issue affecting African football?" asks the Guardian. "Is Drogba the bravest footballer since Bert Trautmann?" asks the Independent.
And this is not to mention the extensive analysis into his play before every Chelsea game, after every Chelsea game, and indeed every time he touched the ball. Ã¢ÂÂWhat a hit, son,Ã¢ÂÂ cries Andy Gray as Drogba spoons wide from six yards. Ã¢ÂÂFor a man with malaria, thatÃ¢ÂÂs a great effort. Take a bow.Ã¢ÂÂ
But thanks to ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs silence until now, this has all been avoided. Thank you, Chelsea. This is meant with 100 percent sincerity: thank you so, so much. They have brilliantly nipped it in the bud by waiting until the bud Ã¢ÂÂ and bug Ã¢ÂÂ was already nipped. The media canÃ¢ÂÂt do much now. ItÃ¢ÂÂs old news. DrogbaÃ¢ÂÂs better again. Expect a small amount of localised chatting, then malaria to die the death it tried, and failed, to inflict on footballÃ¢ÂÂs Chuck Norris.
And as for Drogba, he deserves credit for carrying on as if he was the healthiest man on Earth. HeÃ¢ÂÂs obviously not been at his best over the last month (still provided an assist though), but to manage a full 90 minutes without coughing up blood, or even without anyone noticing he was suffering, is incredible. You didnÃ¢ÂÂt see that kind of effort from Cheryl Cole. All in all, her performance during The Malaria Months was beyond poor.
Which brings us on to how Drogba caught malaria in the first place. Was it Cheryl? Is AshleyÃ¢ÂÂs ex getting revenge on the love rat by having a series of malaria-ridden trysts with his team-mates? Thankfully for our legal team, the answer is almost certainly no.
Still, what a headline that would make.
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