Hiddink's maths says top-four finish can still be counted on

Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has not ruled out January transfers and has told his players "to be professionals and look forward". The Blues will face Watford in an English Premier League encounter on Saturday.
Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has not ruled out January transfers and has told his players "to be professionals and look forward". The Blues will face Watford in an English Premier League encounter on Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink might have taken over a club 11 points adrift of the Champions League places but the Dutchman has not given up hope of finishing in the top four.

"Mathematically, it is possible," he said at his first press conference since succeeding Jose Mourinho last week.

"If you can add up, then it is possible but this league is very strong, which has been especially proven this year with all respect to the clubs at the top - Leicester, Crystal Palace, Watford... it is amazing and refreshing.

"It means that all the teams can kill each other."

Chelsea host Watford on Saturday, seeking just their sixth league win of the season. The Blues are on 18 points, with fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on 29.

FINDING INSPIRATION

I said why I was here and I want everyone to look... in the mirror and see what everyone can contribute to the way up.

GUUS HIDDINK, interim Chelsea manager

"I have a lot of respect for Watford. They are disciplined and have strong strikers: (Odion) Ighalo and (Troy) Deeney. They are very dangerous," Hiddink added.

He knows his players can pose a threat too but they need to reflect after underperforming so far during this campaign.

"Yesterday, I talked fully to the squad about the past," said the 69-year-old, who managed the Blues in a similar role in 2009.

"I said why I was here and I want everyone to look either here or at home in the mirror and see what everyone can contribute to the way up. Not to look back so much.

"We cannot ignore what has happened in the past. I told them to be professionals and look forward."

With Hiddink not ruling out January transfers, the players have just a few games to try to impress their new boss.

It is understood that Chelsea will pursue their interest in Leicester's Jamie Vardy and Shakhtar Donetsk forward Alex Teixeira.

The Brazilian is believed to favour a move to Stamford Bridge, where the 25-year-old would be offered a deal through to 2020, having scored 26 goals in 25 games for the Ukrainian club this season.

Teixeira would cost around £30 million (S$62 million) but would be Cup-tied in Europe.

"Let's go into the next few games and we will see," Hiddink said of any potential transfer activity.

"That is always open but first I would like to get through the first few games."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'Hiddink's maths says top-four finish can still be counted on'. Print Edition | Subscribe