At long last it seems Chelsea are on their way back to the form that saw them run away with the Premier League title in 2014/15. The arrival of Guus Hiddink has been a crucial factor in the losses coming to an abrupt end.
However, it isn’t the Dutchman’s presence alone that has triggered this upturn but the freedom he has allowed his players.
After years of being constricted by Jose Mourinho’s totalitarian tactics, the Chelsea squad is once again being allowed footballing liberty. Results have followed and it appears this change has been vital in the Blues turning around their season.
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Mourinho, during his time at Chelsea, displayed how strict his tactics can be on a regular basis.
Whilst the Blues’ 2-0 win at Liverpool in 2014 showed this can bear fruits, their catastrophic start to the current campaign displayed the contrary. This approach stabbed the ‘Special One’ in the back amidst the club's calamitous defence of their league title and he eventually faced the axe.
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Hiddink, however, has allowed his squad more freedom and victories have come with it.
February 16's 2-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain was the west Londoners' first loss under the 69-year-old and they remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League since his arrival on December 19.
The recent purple patch arriving with this new ethos can be no coincidence.
John Obi Mikel relayed this sentiment recently, according to the Telegraph, and reiterated the importance of change.
The Nigerian said: "Guus has come in again and settled things.
"Players feel free to play and free to have responsibility and thrive on responsibility, but do it in a very relaxed way, which is sometimes what players need."
The 28-year-old accentuated this change by bagging himself a rare goal against Laurent Blanc's PSG in an attacking position he rarely found himself in under Mourinho.
Moreover, this new-found freedom has seen a number of the club’s star players enjoying their football again, with Diego Costa finding the net on a regular basis and Cesc Fabregas re-establishing himself as his side's creative force.
Hiddink continues to yield results at Stamford Bridge and his ‘free to play’ ethos has been crucial. No longer tied down to scrupulous tactics and now eighth in the Premier League table, Chelsea are well on their way to rebuilding their season.
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