Chelsea are driven by Hiddink fear factor

Aston Villa 0 Chlsea 1

And so Chelsea’s latest regime change was the revival of an old one. The Jose Mourinho regime. Avram Grant claimed to have changed it – but did not – and Luiz Felipe Scolari tried, for a while, to get them to be a kind of Blue Brazil (and we’re not talking about Cowdenbeath here).

Guus Hiddink, as could be expected, took a look at what he inherited and decided that the strengths were clear. With one extra ingredient. Him. As Frank Lampard put it: “He’s got a certain aura about him that all the top coaches and managers have. The best coaches I’ve worked with have a sense of fear about them, that when they say the smallest thing it makes you realise certain things on the pitch. He’s got that.”

So the fear is back. And it is the fear of displeasing the man on the touch-line, not of facing the opponent on the field that has crept in at Chelsea in recent months. Of going one goal ahead and knowing they dare not lose that advantage.

While Grant became a figure of fun in the dressing room and Scolari’s happy days imploded as he tried to be everyone’s friend, with the inevitable consequences, Hiddink has decided to get back to basics.

It was clear the riot act had been read when the manager himself explained that: “The dream is of every kid is to play professional football, and then it is the dream to play for a big club. And once you get there, sometimes you must reflect on why you are there. And have an attitude of delivering always for the club and the team.

“If there was change you must think of the past. Sometimes with players you must restrict them with what their job is on the pitch. Off the pitch I talk about how we cope with each other. But on the pitch sometimes players are overdoing or overacting. And when you tell them their basic jobs and focus on their qualities you are making one step ahead. We focused on everyone’s job as an individual but also as a team.”



It could not be clearer. The players have not delivered, have started to believe their own hype, have tried to do too much and have not played as a team. There have been divisions and they need to get on with their own jobs – and be restricted, disciplined. So when Jose Bosingwa bombs forward, when he is not needed to join the attack, Hiddink will wave him back, while Ricardo Quaresma sat among the substitutes. No wingers required. And if neither Nicolas Anelka (left) nor Didier Drogba believe defending is their first requirement, they will be put straight.

Both were excellent here. And that is where a subtle distinction, which marks out Hiddink’s quality, comes in. He changed, ever so slightly, the formation. Four in defence, three tight in midfield but, up front, Anelka was encouraged to take a free role. Given that the biggest criticism of him since he arrived at Chelsea has been his failure to have an impact on big games, his lack of movement and team play, there was a real affirmation of what he can do. His goal, wonderfully constructed by Lampard was, as the midfielder put it, “sublime”.

“This was a little bit of the old Chelsea, the old spirit and the way we used to play,” Lampard said. “Scoring early and closing out the game was like being back to our old selves. We used to do that a lot and get on people’s nerves by getting 1-0s away from home. That’s something we’ve lost a little bit this season as we’ve drawn too many games in a frustrating manner.”

On Saturday the frustration belonged to Villa. Three games in six days and, with a season that started last July, they looked exhausted. That tiredness is compounded by the high-energy, quick, pressing football that Martin O’Neill demands and the reliance on two young talents, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, who, although not at their best, both came close. Agbonlahor should have done better with an early shot after beating Alex while Young’s free-kick shivered the bar. Chelsea, too, had chances.

Has the Villa bubble burst? O’Neill knew that one was coming and talked about convincing the players that defeat, with Chelsea leap-frogging them into third place, was a “setback not a catastrophe”. Arsenal’s failure to beat Sunderland will have drawn extra comfort but O’Neill knows that this was the kind of defeat that could easily resonate for the rest of the season. He spoke as if Thursday’s Uefa Cup tie, away to CSKA Moscow, would be surrendered to remain in the hunt for Champions League places. Several players, including Gareth Barry, may not travel. “The exciting part about it is for players not to know any fear,” O’Neill said of the progress his team has made. No fear of the opponent, certainly, but with Hiddink, and O’Neill too, a fear of the manager is a healthy thing.

Goal: Anelka (19) 0-1.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, Davies (Carew, 70), Knight, L Young; Milner, Petrov, Barry, A Young; Heskey, Agbonlahor. Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), Sidwell, Delfouneso, Salifou, Shorey, Gardner.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ferreira; Lampard, Mikel, Ballack; Kalou (Deco, 55), Drogba (Belletti, 89), Anelka. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Ivanovic, Quaresma, Mancienne, Stoch.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Booked: Aston Villa Cuellar; Chelsea Ballack, Bosingwa, Terry.

Man of the match: Lampard.

Attendance: 42,585.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine