Chelsea’s attacking contingent must stabilise the Blues’ season by learning to love the Premier League’s “dirty work”, according to boss Guus Hiddink.
Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa struck to hand Hiddink his first win in his second stint as interim boss as Chelsea sunk Crystal Palace 3-0 at a rain-soaked Selhurst Park.
Former Holland boss Hiddink hailed John Obi Mikel as the new driving force of his demand for a redoubled work ethic as Chelsea continue to rebuild after Jose Mourinho’s sacking last month.
“We’ve started working and if the team is not doing well through a long period then you have to look for security, and that’s why we emphasised on good, hard work, tactically and a defensive way,” said Hiddink.
“I don’t like to see the team drop back very far and seek false security. When they get the ball they know to play.
“We don’t need to add a lot of quality of players: they are blessed by nature with big quality.
“But they have to know when things aren’t going as wished that we have to look for causes, and that’s why we started working.
“The very talented players, they start working also, to invest in the dirty work and not just the beautiful game they can play, because this league is very demanding.
“And if you think you can do it just on your quality, what’s more given by talent than nature, then this league will kill you.”
Hiddink believes Mikel is the ideal man to balance out Chelsea’s attacking and defensive instincts, suggesting an extended run for the 28-year-old.
“He played very well but also in the previous game,” said Hiddink of Mikel. “He’s the ideal player in my option to bring balance to the team.
“If the team is not willing to defend well, or hasn’t got the right balance, then you’ll concede a lot of goals.
“I think John Obi can be one of the key figures in bringing back that balance. He can recover his radar, he reads the game very well, he knows where the strength of the opponent is and knows how to combat that. He has very good sense, he doesn’t do it in a brutal way, he’s very elegant.
“Someone who can defend so smoothly is very beautiful.”
Eden Hazard meanwhile will discover the extent of groin damage in an MRI scan on Monday, having trudged out of action after just 15 minutes in south London.
Alan Pardew admitted his Palace side still crave the return to full fitness of forwards Bakary Sako, Connor Wickham and Dwight Gayle.
“When they got the goal you could see their spirit lift and ours diminish,” said Pardew.
“And there you see the story of the game. In fact we went away from our game plan and started forcing things. So that sometimes is what happens when you’re not scoring goals.”