Hiddink promises title race will last 'to the bitter end'

Chelsea manager takes part in paintballing session to lift morale for the run-in

Guus Hiddink took his Chelsea players on a paintballing excursion on Monday, as he sought to build team morale for what the Dutch coach claimed yesterday would be a "fight to the bitter end" with Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League title race.

Chelsea's interim manager told his staff to organise the session after his team's win over Manchester City on Sunday as he seeks galvanise his squad for the run-in, starting with the game away to Tottenham on Saturday. In an interview with the Russian newspaper Sovietski Sport, Hiddink said that his side, in second place behind United in the table, faced an uphill struggle to overhaul the champions.

"That is the task we are facing but, objectively speaking, it will be extremely difficult to achieve," Hiddink said. "Don't forget that Manchester United have a game in hand and, moreover, they have a lot of experience of winning the league. All I can promise is that Chelsea will fight to the bitter end.

"You perfectly know my way – work, work and more work. That has been the principle since my first day in London. So far, so good. We started in fourth place in the Premier League [when Hiddink took over last month], now we are second. We are in the best eight clubs in Europe and each of them harbours ambitious plans. Chelsea are no exception."

Hiddink, as well as assistant Ray Wilkins, accompanied his players on their paintballing session, now something of a tradition at Chelsea. The Dutch coach is understood to have joined in himself with the players, which is a first for a Chelsea manager. The squad are back in training today, with Didier Drogba likely to sit out the session while he recovers from a knee injury.

Hiddink was expecting to come up against one of his key players for Russia, the striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, when Chelsea face Tottenham on Saturday, but the striker was demoted to play for the Spurs reserves on Monday night in their 4-0 win over Chelsea reserves. Hiddink said: "I know that he didn't play against Aston Villa [on Sunday] but I hope that he will play in the next game."

The paintballing began as a morale-building exercise under Jose Mourinho. The exercise was continued by Mourinho's successor Avram Grant. In February last year, the players went paintballing after their defeat to Tottenham in the Carling Cup final, which had been preceded by captain John Terry's training ground clash with the former coach Henk ten Cate. On that occasion Grant and Ten Cate were not invited. Mourinho also preferred to leave the paintballing to his players.

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own