Belfast Telegraph

Guus Hiddink warns Chelsea players they must show desire or face axe

Guus Hiddink has warned Chelsea's players they will face the axe if they do not show "great desire" to reverse the club's miserable Barclays Premier League fortunes.

Chelsea's interim manager revealed he told his Blues squad to "look in the mirror" on Tuesday, as he plots the Stamford Bridge club's path forward from Jose Mourinho's sacking.

Hiddink has not ruled out helping Chelsea identify Mourinho's long-term successor, but refused to be drawn on whether Didier Drogba would join his backroom staff.

Mourinho left Stamford Bridge last week with Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo citing a "palpable discord" with the players after nine defeats in 16 league matches.

"Yesterday I spoke fully to the squad and of course we talked a bit about the past," said Hiddink, insisting he can wield full authority despite his caretaker status.

"Why I'm here, the reasons why we are down.

"But on the other hand I told them things happen in football and I want everyone to look in the mirror, not just for two seconds, but longer.

"We cannot ignore what has happened in the recent past, but I asked them and told them to look in the mirror and be hypercritical and give the best for the team.

"There must be a great desire to play, yes? If you don't have that desire, please knock on my door and we'll talk - we'll talk briefly.

"If you have a temporary boss, in half a year he can still kick you around.

"Through a strong appeal, not begging them, to perform. They have a profound obligation to perform. They are at a big club, they are well paid.

"They must have a heart full of the desire of an amateur. If they don't have that desire then I will say: 'Thank you very much'. I don't need players who don't have the desire."

Former Holland boss Hiddink does not expect to remain at the club far beyond the end of the current season, as he reprises the caretaker role he first held in 2009.

The ex-Russia manager could help Chelsea chase Mourinho's successor, with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte in the frame.

"At other clubs in the past I've been speaking from time to time with the board, but not in an official capacity," said Hiddink, hinting at helping Chelsea's board in their permanent manager search.

When asked if he would consider seeking the full-time job himself, Hiddink replied: "We spoke about until the end of the season.

"First we said let's go to mid-May, and then let's see. I will see what will happen.

"As long as I feel desire, as long as I feel passion (to do the job). I must feel inside my heart that I'm passionate to work with the guys.

"I shouldn't be here, halfway into the season. That means things are not going as well as foreseen.

"But anyhow I'm glad to be back."

Former Chelsea striker Drogba sat alongside Hiddink and club owner Roman Abramovich in Saturday's 3-1 league victory over Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.

The 37-year-old continues to be linked with a role in Hiddink's short-term set-up, despite remaining contracted to Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer.

Hiddink reiterated his admiration for Drogba, but insisted the club's board would handle any extra backroom recruits.

"I worked with him five or six years ago and I was delighted to have such a professional in the squad," said Hiddink.

"He's a legend already in this club. The only thing is at the moment is that he's playing in Montreal.

"The official process I don't know but I spoke openly from the bottom of my heart that huge impact players can be key for the club.

"Other people have to deal with that, not me."

Mourinho never recovered from insisting his players "betrayed" him in the 2-1 defeat at Leicester on December 14, his final match before receiving the sack.

Hiddink claimed he has not met Mourinho despite reports the Dutchman sought his predecessor's advice, but revealed Abramovich was "hurting" over sacking the Portuguese.

"I don't want to go into that too much," said Hiddink when asked to comment on Mourinho feeling betrayed by his players.

"I don't want to be 'informed' that much, I will make my own judgements.

"I didn't have that long a conversation but it was hurting for him (Abramovich) to take this decision. That's it.

"And no I didn't meet him (Mourinho). They told me yesterday we'd had a nice breakfast but we couldn't agree who would pay! No, no, there was no contact."

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