Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink has declared that the club are in a state of ‘transition’, having crashed out of the Champions League a few days before taking on Everton in the FA Cup.
Chelsea suffered a 4-2 aggregate loss in the last sixteen tie of the Champions League, exiting the competition at the hands of Paris St-Germain for the second season in succession. The defeat means that the Blues will likely not be in Europe’s Elite competition for the first time during the ownership of Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich, given that they are ten points away from the top four in 10th spot in the Premier League.
It is a far-cry from the situation they found themselves in this time last year, when their exit from the Champions League was somewhat tempered by the fact that they were top of the Premier League having garnered 63 points from 27 games on their way to a third title under the management of Jose Mourinho. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was fired by Abramovich in December of last year, however, having led the club to their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s.
Chelsea are an incredible 23 points worse off than they were on the same date last year, despite the fact they have played two more games this time around. The result in the Champions League as well as the forthcoming match against Everton in the FA Cup led Hiddink to say, “Chelsea must consider their short-term future”.
He continued, “Chelsea are now in a transitional period and they now have to see how to go on to try to regain the lost terrain where they used to be. It is difficult to get into fourth in the Premier League, but we knew that and we tried to do our first job, which was to get out of the relegation zone”.
The Dutchman, who will leave the club in the summer having arrived on a temporary basis to replace Mourinho, much as he did in 2009 when he replaced Brazilian Luis Felipe Scolari after his sacking by Abramovich, also said that he understood why some fans were less than impressed with the contribution of Eden Hazard. Some Chelsea supporters believed that last year’s PFA Player Of The Year was instrumental in the sacking of Mourinho, having not performed to the same level this campaign.
Hazard limped off towards the end of the game and is a major doubt for the FA Cup quarter-final match against Everton on Saturday. Hiddink said, “The fans have the right to express their feelings. Hazard was also having a problem with his hip”. He is likely to join Chelsea striker Diego Costa on the treatment table, with the manager refusing to be too critical of the Belgian’s decision to swap shirts with Angel Di Maria at half-time in Wednesday’s game. He said, “I’m aware of it. In some countries they do it and I don’t want to see a bad thought about that or overvalue it. It’s not a big thing for me. I’m sure knowing those two players there was no bad intention there”.