Guus Hiddink was asked about a number of issues at Friday’s news conference ahead of the visit of West Ham. Here’s a round-up of what the Chelsea interim boss had to say.
On Diego Costa’s sending off at Everton and subsequent two-match ban
“I think he wasn’t happy with that. We’ll see whether it’s going to a third game, yes or no. He desperately likes to play. He accepts, of course, that he is suspended but is not happy with that. First everyone wants to go on his ‘kiss’ or ‘bite’ [on Gareth Barry], whatever you term it. Then I think Barry made a very good statement, by saying what has happened, or not happened in this case. So maybe there was a little bit of searching for Diego – ‘Where can we get him?’, and there he was frustrated.”
On a discussion he had with Costa about his behaviour
“We talked many times about him playing on the edge and his reactions. We were happy – and still happy – with his performances. But I never can give you a guarantee that one day it will not [happen again]. Whether or not, bit by bit, [he is] provoked, he has to control himself. That’s what the conversation was about. This is a technical matter, within our staff and our club.
“It’s a matter of temperament and character as well. If he reduces what he did more frequently in the past, then we’re progressing. We have to have hope. He has to play as he is doing, we know that, we have to accept that. He himself has to control [himself], and he knows that.”
On whether Costa’s behaviour is overshadowing his good work for the team
“That’s why I defend him and I like him very much. Of course, [I am also] judging fairly what he should not do – that’s why I had the conversation with him – but he also is contributing a lot to the resurrection since December when we started.”
On the injury that saw Costa left out of Spain’s squad for upcoming friendlies
“It was a medical issue by the Spanish coaches and medical team. It’s a little bit as it was before the two cup games, a little bit [of an injury] in the tendon in his hip.”
On West Ham
“I expect a tough match because they are doing very well. If you see them play, they are a courageous team who can put [together] a very fast counter. They have skilful players, who can make decisions in a second. It’s a nice team to watch, it’s an adventurous team, so I expect a tough game.
“They are in the mood, being in fifth position, and to not just dream [of Champions League qualification] but maybe make this dream come true and go into the fourth position. This is a team which is showing a lot of character, but not just character, that’s not enough. They show also they can play. They have players who can score and be decisive in any minute.”
On Antonio Conte, widely tipped to be Chelsea boss, confirming he will return to club management
“I have read it as well. If there’s more, you must expect from the club an announcement in a moment they think is appropriate. If you see his record at clubs where he was working, he did very well.”
On Radamel Falcao
“Falcao, as everyone knows, has had a very difficult time with long, enduring injuries. He has recovered physically from the injury and now he has to regain his substance in the physical fitness. He has been training now for 10 days with the first team. I will see after the international break whether he is fully competitive. We have to wait to see how he reacts on the more intensive training he is now undergoing.”
On Alexandre Pato
“At this moment he will stay until the end of the season. When he was hired and coming on loan here, we had a very difficult situation. The only [fit] striker we had at that time was Diego Costa. [Betrand] Traore was at that time a very young kid and, in a very short time, coming in as a substitute, he did well, scoring some goals. We had also [Loic] Remy in very troubled water and Falcao also, so that was the reason to get Pato on loan.
“Meanwhile, everyone is becoming fitter and fitter. Then there is the law of competition and we’ll see who is the strongest. There he has to compete and we will see what we will do after the international break, when we have some games where we can make, maybe, some changes, without any guarantee.
“But they have to compete amongst themselves in a healthy way, and that’s what they are doing now. Then I have to make a judgement whether I give a spot [to] the one who in our eyes deserves to play, for being competitive.”
On whether youngsters may be blooded now Chelsea have nothing to play for
“Of course, it’s difficult for Chelsea to get to where we had dreamed of in December, trying to get fourth place – that’s impossible. We have to face the facts of being out of the Champions League and the FA Cup.
“Then there are other circumstances in which younger players – especially after the international break – can get their chances as well, once more without any guarantee from my side. They have to knock on the door but probably they will get some more chances.”
On Eden Hazard’s fitness
“Eden’s the same [as Costa], he has also a tendon injury in the muscle from his upper leg, his thigh. He will be out [for the West Ham game]. I was talking to him this morning. There’s still discomfort in this area.
“It’s good for him [to rest over the international break]. First for Chelsea because, after the break, we will see if he can get fit as soon as possible so he can participate in the last league games, and also personally for him and Belgium it will be good when he starts in the Euros in physical fitness.”
On West Ham boss Slaven Bilic
“Very stable, very consistent manager. We have some encounters at international level and at club level. He is a very driven coach. I know him already for many years, I think there’s a mutual respect – when we meet each other we talk. [Despite] being a young manager, he did already many good things.”
On the fact West Ham haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 2002
“Statistics don’t mean a lot I think. They were unlucky not to get the away win in the cup in Manchester, that means they are in the mood and then statistics in the past don’t say much to me.”