LONDON (Reuters) – Guus Hiddink has challenged his Chelsea players to break the negative cycle that has seen the champions lose touch with the top of the Premier League this season.
Hiddink will take charge of his first game at home to Watford on Saturday, having returned to Stamford Bridge for a second stint at interim manager following last week’s sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea are 15th in the table, 11 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, after losing more than half of their opening 17 games as players such as Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas struggle to reach the heights of last season.
“When you are in this cycle of not getting good results, then luck doesn’t come to you either,” Hiddink told Chelsea’s website on Thursday.
“You must push the luck, but when you’re in a negative cycle then it’s the other way round — look at the goal conceded against Bournemouth. That happens to a team in that cycle.
“That’s not always to do with desire. But we must push luck now through desire.”
Hiddink was popular with the players when he performed a similar role in 2009 following the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari, but amenable as he is, he has made it clear he expects the club’s under-performing players to improve.
“The players have a profound obligation to perform,” he said. “They are here at a big club. They are well paid. They must have this heart full of desire like an amateur. I don’t need players who don’t have the desire.”
Hiddink has not brought in his own support staff, and will work with Steve Holland and Eddie Newton who were in charge for last weekend’s home win against Sunderland.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)