Guus Hiddink, Chelsea's interim manager, believes his squad's adaptability could hold the key to success on three fronts this season. Chelsea remain unbeaten since the Dutch coach agreed to take charge and they have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and semi-finals of the FA Cup. The Blues are also chasing Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. Hiddink's side cut United's lead to four points with a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday but their rivals have a game in hand.
However, following four straight league wins and victories over Coventry in the FA Cup and Juventus in the Champions League, Hiddink has been boosted by the squad's versatility as they prepare for two tricky away games at Tottenham and Newcastle.
"I've seen what each of my players can do," Hiddink said. "I knew some things about them before I arrived and now, from working with these players every day, I know much more. This is a squad that can challenge on all fronts until the end and that's what we are aiming to do. In Coventry we played with three forwards – one striker and two wingers – and against Juventus we started with two strikers.
"In both games we scored twice and controlled them in spells. It shows me that this team can adapt to different ways of playing and we have the squad to change in this way if the situation needs it. We have also demonstrated an attitude to recover from setbacks. We came back twice against Juventus to win the tie on aggregate. With two more away games against Tottenham and Newcastle, it is not the easiest run for us and we'll need to be at our best."
Meanwhile, captain John Terry has underlined the task facing the Blues if they are to stand any chance of catching United. "We still haven't achieved anything this season," Terry said. "In the league we simply can't slip up. We've started a run with the new gaffer but it is only a start. We have to turn it into one of those unstoppable Chelsea runs and, if we do, who knows what we might go on to achieve."
Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin believes it is possible for Hiddink's side to catch United especially with defender Ricardo Carvalho and midfielder Michael Essien fit again. "Bringing the league trophy back to the Bridge is still a long shot, but not beyond the bounds of possibility," he said.
"Chelsea have to keep on winning, but if the Blues keep powering past good teams the way they did on Sunday, then that will pile even more pressure on United. Losing four goals at home [in the 4-1 defeat to Liverpool] will not have done Sir Alex Ferguson's men much good either. If ever shoulders were being looked over in Manchester, now is the time."