Saturday 22 October 2016

Hiddink: Conte call not to blame

Chelsea’s Guus Hiddink. Photo: PA
Chelsea’s Guus Hiddink. Photo: PA

Guus Hiddink insisted the first league defeat of his second Chelsea reign was not down to the announcement that Antonio Conte will be in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat next season.

Hiddink had not lost any of his previous 14 Barclays Premier League games since succeeding Jose Mourinho in December, but Chelsea came unstuck at Swansea as Gylfi Sigurdsson's 25th-minute volley gave the Welsh club a 1-0 win and took them to the 40-point milestone.

Chelsea announced earlier this week that Conte will be taking over after leading Italy at Euro 2016 in France this summer.

But Hiddink refuted the suggestion that the appointment had affected his players, saying: "I don't think so.

"What we did in the second half was good. I don't think they had it in mind to look to next season."

Hiddink was without several first-team players through injury and suspension, among them John Terry, Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, Willian and Diego Costa.

But the Dutchman also sprang a surprise by preferring Asmir Begovic to Thibaut Courtois in goal.

"Begovic is a good keeper and he has proven that," said Hiddink.

"He has done his job as a professional very well. He is 100 per cent committed in every training session and that is why I rewarded him with the chance to play.

"We created some chances in the first 20 minutes but we were sloppy in taking those options.

"The second half we were on the front foot but did not create many chances and it is a disappointing defeat."


Swansea's third win in four games took them to the 40-point mark usually regarded as enough to retain top-flight status.

Head coach Francesco Guidolin said: "I think we are safe now.

"We know it is not completely done, but now I think we can see a way forward and are not looking behind. It is an important moment for the club. It is not easy. I want my team to be focused.

"This is a proud day for me and for the players. We need to finish the season well."

Guidolin took charge in January and the Italian has won six of his 12 matches to stave off the threat of relegation.

"That was the best performance since I took over," said Guidolin.

"The first half we very good and I am very happy. This is my team and how I want them to play.

"I knew we could play this way but as a new manager I had to get to know my players and today I saw my team play as I want - with intensity, quality and aggression."

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