Small clubs to pose big EPL threat: Hiddink

LONDON • Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has admitted the Blues will find it difficult to re-establish the Stamford Bridge fear factor next season, after a surprising Premier League campaign in which smaller clubs have stolen the spotlight.

The Dutchman said: "Next season, with all the money clubs have, it will be more difficult for established clubs. You must be very aware that the opposition will grow as well.

"When the results are not good during a season, of course you are in a different mood.

"From December until we were knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League, there was something at stake.

"Now there is nothing, except pride, which I remind my players of.

"But we do what we do - the players still go into the last games with a lot of pride."

Hiddink has praised his Bournemouth counterpart Eddie Howe, ahead of their league clash today.

Bournemouth are in 13th position in the table on 41 points, just three behind 10th-placed Chelsea and Hiddink insists Howe has been a great advertisement for young English managers.

"There is not much to say about Bournemouth, which is a very good sign, they were mostly out of the danger zone. Howe is an example of an English manager as to how well they can do," he said.

"It's a fairytale story for them, when I said before they were strong, it shows good management and good transfer policy.

"And when you are coming up from bottom to the Premier League - very respectful."

Hiddink has confirmed that Eden Hazard is set to return from his injury setback and could play a part in the game.

BOURNEMOUTH V CHELSEA

Singtel TV Ch103 & StarHub Ch228, 10pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Small clubs to pose big EPL threat: Hiddink'. Print Edition | Subscribe