Guus Hiddink has praised Eden Hazard, saying the Blues forward’s strong character will help him return to his blistering best…
After picking up an injury last month against Leicester City, the Belgian was ruled out for the Sunderland fixture that followed. He came off the bench against Watford before returning to the starting line-up for the Manchester United match, playing up front in place of the suspended Diego Costa.
Having now spent some time working with the 24-year-old on the training ground, Hiddink has been impressed with what he has seen.
“First of all, he is very versatile to play in various positions but on either wing position he might have his best performance,’ said the Dutchman.
“As a coach I haven’t experienced him in the past and now I have had him for just a few days because he was injured. He came back with a strong character. He definitely wanted to play the last game and also part of the Watford game, although he had just practiced for three days before, which means he is very eager to perform and get back to his shape.”
Hiddink elaborated on Hazard’s desire and praised him for his display against Man United, when he was subjected to some close attention from the opposition.
“If a player comes back from an injury then normally they like to take some time to get in good physical and mental shape, but he was eager to play in the Watford game already because when he was warming up and when I looked at him, he said, “Please, bring me on, bring me on.”
“That means he is eager to play, which also as a consequence means he can go to the performance level we are used to. At Old Trafford they were searching for him all over the pitch and he reacted very well – he has a very strong character. If the eagerness is there then I think he can reach the level of performance we are used to.”
Away from the match and training situation, Hiddink has been able to further assess the player.
“I don’t speak too much, I’m not a psychologist who says, “Come on, lie down on the couch, what’s bothering you privately or professionally?”
“I don’t do that, but they are normally short conversations in the medical room or dressing room. I do that with most of the players and you “smell” how they feel and how eager they are. He smells very good!’
Ahead of today’s meeting with Crystal Palace, Hiddink has also discussed the differences between this Chelsea squad and the one he took charge of in 2009, including whether he felt there were more leaders back then compared to now.
“As a matter of fact, that’s what I’m asking now from players as well – that they can and must demand of each other, not just demanding in their commitment because they are all committed.
“If you see training and the intensity of the games, then they are all committed, but in the technical way of playing, I like to see some guys who take the lead, from central defence, into midfield and forward. Tactically, you can do a lot with two or three words to your companion who is in front of you,
“We think we have a lot of power on the bench, which is not true. You can just prepare your team and you have your three substitution possibilities, but I like always to have these guys [on the pitch] in charge. Now I am saying to these guys, “Come on, take the lead.””