Wednesday 24 January 2018

Terry hails Hiddink effect in restoring 'real' Blues

Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has been praised by John Terry. Photo credit: John Walton/PA Wire
Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has been praised by John Terry. Photo credit: John Walton/PA Wire

Matt Law

John Terry has claimed that the Chelsea of last season are on the way back after being given a timely pick-me-up by interim manager Guus Hiddink.

Chelsea produced their best all-round performance of the season to beat Crystal Palace and extend their unbeaten run to four games since Jose Mourinho was sacked.

Asked if it was the 'real' Chelsea that defeated Palace, Terry said: "I think so - the Chelsea of last season. The football was first-class and we kept the ball in tough conditions. It was windy, rainy, there was a lot of zip on the surface but I thought, overall, we were different class.

"It's a new year, new start and we have to keep winning. We've had a couple of draws and been unfortunate not to pick up more points."

On the influence of Hiddink, who won the FA Cup during his last spell as Chelsea caretaker, Terry said: "Guus has been great since he has come in.

"It was unfortunate what happened. We feel we let everyone down. The new man has come in and like he did last time he has picked everyone up and you can see we have gone again.

"As a group, we've known we had to get better and we have done slowly but surely. If we can put a good run of games together, who knows? There's a lot of games coming, there's a long way we can go."

Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa scored the Chelsea goals against Palace, but Hiddink was more impressed by his team's work-rate than their attacking flair.

And the Dutchman has confirmed that the midfielder John Obi Mikel, who has now started the past two games, is poised to play an important role in his plans for the remainder of the season.

"The players are blessed by nature with big quality," Hiddink said. "But they have to know that once things are going not as wished, we have to look for causes.

"The very talented players, they start working to invest in what I call the 'dirty work' and not just the beautiful game that they can play. Because this league is very demanding and if you think that you can do it just on your quality, given by talent, then this is killing you.

"When we started working, we knew of course there is a lot of quality in this squad. Not just the first 11, but from one to 22.

"If a team is not doing well for a very long period, it is rather human to look for security. That is why we emphasised on the good, hard work, tactically and in a defensive way."

Mikel had almost become a forgotten man at Stamford Bridge before the return of Hiddink, but the 28-year-old was preferred to Nemanja Matic at Selhurst Park.

"He played very well, but also in the previous game," Hiddink said. "He is the ideal player in my opinion to bring balance to the team.

"If you saw, in the previous time, Chelsea conceded a lot of goals. You can say that the four defenders are not doing their job. But if the team is not willing to defend well, or does not have the right balance, then you concede a lot of goals. I thought that John Obi can be one of the key figures in getting back the balance. He can recover [the ball]. His radar, he knows how to read the game well.

"He knows what the strength of the opponent is and he knows exactly how to cope with that. He has a very good eye, very good nose, very good sense of where to recover. And he doesn't do it in a very brutal way. He is very, very elegant.

"That is what I like to see. Not just a quality player, but one who can defend so smoothly, is for me beautiful to see.

"And then, he doesn't lose many balls. He is good in the short passing. I don't expect, and don't ask him, to give the decisive final pass. He can, but let the other players."

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