Guus Hiddink has advised Chelsea players “to look themselves in the mirror” after his appointment as interim manager.
Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho last Thursday after a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City left them only a point outside of the Premier League relegation zone with nine defeats from 16 games.
The Blues responded to Mourinho’s exit with an improved performance in a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but Hiddink does not expect an instant return to the sort of form which saw the team lift the title only seven months ago.
Hiddink said at his first press conference on Wednesday: “I shouldn’t be here halfway through the season. It means things are not going well. But anyhow, I am glad to be back. It is a few years ago I was here in a similar situation.
“If you look back a bit to last season when there was this year of success, then you go into next season with targets and wins, which are the same: winning the title again. It is not easy after a championship. You relax as a team and get a wake-up call. It is not easy to say that I am here and the problem is solved.
“No manager can guarantee three points every week, but we have to show to ourselves and to the club, and especially the fans, that the team has big desire to wash away the last half a year and to go up to the next games.”
Despite his belief that some of the problems experienced by Mourinho may reappear during the early part of his reign, Hiddink has been urging his players to forget what has happened so far this season.
“I talked to the squad yesterday and we talked about the past a little – why I am here, the reason why we are down,” he said.
“But I also told them things happen in football and I want everyone to look themselves in the mirror, for not just a second but for a long time, to see what anyone from now on can contribute to the way up.
“I emphasized that. And not to look back too much.
“We cannot ignore what has happened in the recent past, but I have asked them to be professionals and see if they can give themselves the best of the team. So I like to look forward.”
Having taken charge of his first two training sessions back at Chelsea, Hiddink feels confident that there is no attitude problem within the camp or any lack of desire among the players to get the team back on track.
“I want to have my own judgment about performances on the pitch and in training,” he said.
“I don’t want to have much information (about what went before). They have to show me now what they are capable of.
“I’ve been working with them a couple of days, two sessions, I cannot see that players – the key players – have a lack of ambition or desire. So I cannot complain.”