LONDON (Reuters) – Interim manager Guus Hiddink was satisfied with Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at Manchester United on Monday, especially as the Premier League champions played without a recognised striker.
Diego Costa was suspended after being booked in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Watford while fellow attackers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were sidelined by injury, forcing winger Eden Hazard to occupy the unfamiliar position of centre forward.
“Tactically it was okay, defensively we were well organised,” Hiddink told reporters at Old Trafford.
“We didn’t have full power to hurt United … we have some problems in the striker position due to suspension and injuries so we had to think how to solve that problem.
“Hazard has done it before and he is capable of doing it because he’s a very versatile player,” added Hiddink who took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho earlier this month.
“I’m pleased because we had some good opportunities in the second half.”
The best of the chances to which Hiddink referred fell to midfielder Nemanja Matic who ran clean through but blazed his effort embarrassingly high over the bar when all he had to do was beat goalkeeper David De Gea in a one-on-one situation.
Chelsea are 14th in the table after winning one match and drawing the other two since Mourinho was dismissed.
“The players have experienced a very bad half-year,” said Hiddink, who has taken over until the end of the season. “They have to lift it up and that’s what we have talked about in the locker room.
“Everyone is convinced we couldn’t go on on the same path and we have shown that in the last three games. It’s normal to see the character and desire of the players but they have shown a lot of ambition in the last three games.
“That’s what we are asking and when everyone is on board hopefully then we can use the quality of the players,” said Hiddink.
“I would have been more worried if there was a lack of confidence or ambition but I don’t see that at the moment in this team.”
(Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)