Guus Hiddink, back at Chelsea as interim manager, spoke about a number of issues at a news conference on Wednesday, including Didier Drogba’s possible return, Eden Hazard’s form, Jose Mourinho’s exit and the Blues’ chances of reaching the top four.
On Chelsea’s problems this season
“Sometimes after a championship you might relax a bit and then get a wake-up call in September. But the situation is that they were down, until last week, to one point off the relegation zone, which was frightening for everyone inside the club. But it’s not easy to say that I’m here and the problem is solved.”
On the anger among Chelsea fans
“I hope the fans will support the team as they did briefly when some beautiful actions were executed during the last game. But the fans have the right to express themselves about the recent past. The team has to take the initiative to get the fans back as soon as possible.
“No manager can guarantee three points every week. But we have to show to ourselves, to the club but also to the fans that the team has big desire to wash away the last half a year and move up.”
On the team’s confidence
“I’m analysing and watching a lot but I cannot see they have a lack of ambition or desire at this moment.
“Yesterday I talked to the squad and of course we talked a bit about the past – why I’m here, the reason why we are down [near the bottom]. But I told them things happen in football.
“We cannot ignore what has happened in the recent past but I told them as big professionals to look in the mirror and see if they can be ultra-critical and give the best of themselves to the team.
“There must be a great desire to play. If you don’t have that desire, please knock on my door and we’ll talk – but we’ll talk briefly.
“I saw the [Sunderland] game and in general they were playing like they enjoyed it very much. And sometimes they even went a little bit over the top and didn’t kill it off after 2-0. But it was good to see how they can play. The quality is there.”
On bringing Drogba back
“He’s a legend at this club. It’s nice, for these guys with big hearts, to connect them somehow to the club. The only thing is, at this moment, he is playing in Montreal.
“The official process I don’t know, but such impact players can be huge for the club. How it’s going, other people have to deal with that, not me.
“But I think all clubs have these specific figures who can make a very good contribution, being ambassador or coach or manager, and they give the brand Chelsea a big image worldwide.”
On reaching the top four
“Mathematically it’s possible. But this league is a very strong league, especially proven this year by the clubs who are usually not in the top half, such as Leicester, Crystal Palace and Watford. Refreshingly now they are in the top half of the league. It means all the teams can kill each other. They are very competitive now.
On Jose Mourinho
“If you look at his record over the years it’s amazing. I have respect for what he did at various clubs, winning many, many titles. But nevertheless things happen in football and people take decisions.
“There’s not one coach in the world who has not been sacked, unless they’re in their first year. But that’s the business.”
On Eden Hazard
“He had a terrific season last year and it’s normal that you get a little bit of a setback after that. But he’s a key player when he’s back in shape [after injury]. Today for the first time he practiced but not for a full session and we’ll see [what happens] tomorrow. With him, it’s the same [as the others], to get the eagerness back to perform.”
On Louis van Gaal at Manchester United
“They are struggling as well, that’s for sure. That also has much to do with the Premier League having strength, quality and intensity to a high level.”
On bringing in youngsters
“Some youth players are participating in the first-team training sessions. But I want to have my analysis, my observations, and then we’ll decide. First I must be convinced of their quality.
“It’s a little bit early to say I will bring in a youngster of 17, 18 or 19, but in general if they show they are competitive, I am not against it.”