Guus Hiddink believed Diego Costa will channel his emotions and make a positive impact over the second half of Chelseas season
Guus Hiddink believes Diego Costa will channel his emotions and make a positive impact over the second half of Chelseas season, and the striker will lead the line in the interim managers first game in charge against Watford on Boxing Day.
Costas contribution was so significant when the London club claimed the title in his first season in English football, but he has been a snarling presence too often in this campaign. The forward has contributed only seven goals for club and country since mid-January, twice incurring retrospective suspensions from the Football Association for incidents on the field. He publicly argued with José Mourinho on the stroke of half-time in the Champions League win over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The Spain international was left out of the games against Tottenham Hotspur, when he flung his bib petulantly towards the coaching staff after completing a half-hearted touchline warm-up, and Bournemouth, and he was one of those singled out for catcalls in last Saturdays win over Sunderland.
Ive worked with him a few days and in the past Ive seen him on television a few times, said Hiddink of the £32m signing from Atlético Madrid. What I experienced in the last few days, and with the last game I watched last weekend, he was in control.
He was focused more on what he is hired for here, which is to help to score or assist and not go into other things. I think he was well controlled when I experienced him over the last days. I cannot have any complaints about him. I think he can focus on what he is able to do. I cannot guarantee there wont be an outburst from him, or from other players, but they have to focus on what theyre good at.
Hiddink is aware of Costas disciplinary issues and his aggressive style but can empathise with his frustration at being left out under Mourinho, who was sacked last week. Diego is clearly an emotional guy and there was something with a bib which I read about, too, he said. But I understand that [frustration]. I remember a long time ago when I was a player, captaining my club team, and I was subbed. I wasnt used to that, which is why its still fixed in my brain even though it was just after the second world war
The manager substituted me at half-time saying I hadnt done well enough. I thought Id performed OK so I ripped off my armband and threw it at him: You make a new captain. It was also an emotional reaction born of frustration. What Diego did was a sign of frustration. Sportsmen are allowed to show a bit of emotion but they must know, five or 10 seconds later, that they were wrong.
Hiddink still hopes to secure Didier Drogbas release from his contract with Major League Soccer and Montreal Impact to take up a role, nominally as a mentor, in his coaching staff. The Ivorian is credited with making a major impact on Eden Hazard last season when the Belgian swept all before him. The playmaker has not managed a goal for Chelsea since Drogba left for Canada and will require a late fitness test on the hip injury sustained against Leicester, Mourinhos final game in charge, before determining whether he can play against Watford.
The champions begin Boxing Day 11 points behind the Champions League places and only three above the relegation zone, though Hiddink has stressed to his players they can still finish in the top four. The target is still to get into fourth position because, mathematically, its possible, he said. If the target is impossible, dont set it. But I did put that to them when I spoke to my squad at Cobham on Tuesday.
After that its the Champions League. Then the FA Cup. So two or three targets still to go. On top of that, or as a foundation of that, the players must show now what theyre capable of. If you do that then, slowly, you can achieve those targets.
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