Belfast Telegraph

Courtois insists Chelsea can save season with trophy and Euro spot

By Tom Allnutt

Thibaut Courtois believes Chelsea can still deem this season a positive one if they secure a place in Europe and win a trophy.

Courtois also admitted the Blues' mentality has changed under new manager Guus Hiddink, who is now unbeaten in three games after Sunday's 3-0 win at Crystal Palace.

The victory leaves Hiddink's men nine points off West Ham in sixth and 13 adrift of Tottenham in fourth but the performance suggested they may yet be capable of a late surge towards the European spots.

Chelsea host Scunthorpe in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, before league games at home to West Brom and Everton, and Courtois insists all is not lost.

"If you win the FA Cup or the Champions League it will still be a positive (season)," Courtois said. "Success is a big word if you don't play well until now, except the last three or four games.

"But if we win the FA Cup or maybe the Champions League it could be a positive season if we end up in the top four or top six.

"We have to go step by step. Some teams are close together. If we beat West Brom and Everton we could be maybe eighth or ninth in a few weeks.

"Everything can change very quickly, we just need the results."

Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa were all on the scoresheet at Selhurst Park for Hiddink's first win since being appointed as Jose Mourinho's successor just over two weeks ago.

Costa and Oscar, both struggling under Mourinho, now have five goals between them since the Portuguese left while Cesc Fabregas, another to lose form earlier this season, was also much improved against Palace.

"It's something psychological and sometimes it changes with little changes. Maybe we needed a little change to pick up our level," Courtois said.

"When results are not good the first thing they look at is the manager. But I don't think it is only the manager, the players have to take responsibility as well.

"We were the ones who were not playing as well. With a new manager some things changed. Maybe with some players the mentality changed."

Hiddink led Chelsea to FA Cup glory when he took temporary charge at Stamford Bridge in 2009 and the Dutchman already appears to have imposed a sense of stability at the club.

"Training is a little bit different - the approach he has sometimes in how he wants to train," Courtois said. "Maybe sometimes a bit more tactical, a bit less, different types of little games we play or shooting the ball to give confidence to the strikers.

"He just steps in when he thinks he needs to explain something to the team. When he explains, he explains it well."

Chelsea want to add their former striker Didier Drogba to the club's coaching staff but negotiations have proven difficult, given the 37-year-old remains under contract with Major League Soccer at Montreal Impact.

"I had a very good relationship with him last year. He was great for our team," Courtois added.

"If he comes back as a coach it will be a great addition to all the team."

Belfast Telegraph


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