5 Ways Guus Hiddink Has Changed Chelsea Since Replacing Jose Mourinho

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2016

5 Ways Guus Hiddink Has Changed Chelsea Since Replacing Jose Mourinho

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    Guus Hiddink will complete two months in charge of Chelsea this week since he replaced Jose Mourinho.

    In that time, the Blues have pulled themselves clear of the relegation zone and are beginning to look up the Premier League table as they attempt to crack the top 10 for the first time this season.

    Chelsea have also progressed with two victories in the FA Cup and face Manchester City in the fifth round at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

    Despite a midweek defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Chelsea remain very much in their last-16 tie after a positive display in the 2-1 defeat at the Parc des Princes.

    Put it altogether and the picture is looking far more positive for Chelsea now than it has been at any stage of 2015/16.

    So what has Hiddink done to change things at Stamford Bridge? Bleacher Report looks at some of the key areas.

Made Them Harder to Beat

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    Until this week's loss to Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea hadn't lost a game under Hiddink.

    That was a run that lasted 11 games, with the Blues recording six draws and five victories in that time.

    For a team that had lost 11 games in all competitions under Mourinho before that, it's an impressive turnaround—even if the majority of their results were draws.

    From being easy to beat, Chelsea's undefeated run has allowed them to build a platform to turn their season around.

    They still have much more to do in order to complete that task, but Hiddink has helped set them on the road to recovery through making them solid in midfield and a tougher proposition.

Improved Their Defensive Record

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    In the 25 games Mourinho was in charge this season, Chelsea conceded an unimpressive 1.2 goals per game.

    Now that Hiddink is in charge, that record has dropped to one per game in his 12 matches. For the season as a whole that average now sits at 1.1, showing how things are moving in the right direction.

    It's not a massive swing, yet for Chelsea's defensive record to improve and that ratio to drop over such a short space of time outlines where things are beginning to go right for the Blues.

    From that foundation at the back, Chelsea have been able to build their way into matches, and it's effected the team's performances across the pitch.

    No longer are they looking fragile and weak.

Giving Youth a Chance

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    Hiddink hasn't made sweeping changes to this Chelsea side in the time he has been interim manager. The most significant change, however, has been the chances he has given those youth players who sit on the fringes.

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek has appeared more under Hiddink in just a month than he did for the entire reign of Mourinho. He even completed 90 minutes in the FA Cup against MK Dons, earning himself an assist.

    Chelsea's 20-year-old academy product scored his first goal for the club in the same competition against Scunthorpe United.

    Bertrand Traore is another who has benefited. Last weekend he was given just shy of 30 minutes against Newcastle United and also scored his first Premier League goal.

    Like Loftus-Cheek, Traore featured against MK Dons in the FA Cup and also scored in Chelsea's 5-1 victory.

    Hiddink is helping to blood these talented youngsters, giving them the sort of opportunities they need to build their careers at Stamford Bridge.

    It isn't about them playing regularly just yet, but it's more to do with being given chances at opportune moments. The way Hiddink has used them to date has been perfect, and they look better players for it.

Calmed the Whole Situation Around the Club

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    From his treatment of the media to his general demeanour with the players, Hiddink has been a calming influence across the board at Stamford Bridge.

    That has helped considerably as there was a danger of things spiraling under Mourinho. The former boss accused the players in public of betraying him shortly before he was sacked and the flames seemed to be increasing ever higher.

    For better or worse, Hiddink is the antithesis of Mourinho. He's not as antagonising in press conferences, preferring instead to remain calm in situations when the pressure may well be on him.

    For instance, when Everton complained about John Terry's late equaliser from an offside position to ensure the Blues earned a 3-3 at Stamford Bridge in January, Hiddink shrugged it off.

    "What can I do?" he asked, preferring not to get dragged into a debate on the match officials.

    That sort of approach has meant matchdays are much calmer in west London. The drama has dissipated and we're back talking football.

    The players seem to have responded and are looking better without controversy following them.

He's Got Diego Costa Scoring Goals Again

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    What has been said exactly between Hiddink and Diego Costa, only they know.

    When asked about his striker in press conferences, the Dutchman doesn't give too much away. His answers are simple, saying he has asked him to focus on playing his game and not get involved in the mess elsewhere on the pitch.

    Whatever Hiddink has done, it's clearly worked.

    Costa has eight goals in 11 matches under the interim boss and is spearheading Chelsea's recovery. He looks a different player to the one who struggled in the first half of the season.

    The Spain international is back terrorising defences and making headlines for all the right reasons. And when he's in this type of form, the Blues look much better for it.

    Just as Hiddink has got Chelsea more organised at the back, Costa's goals are beginning to deliver results. Those results haven't always been victories, but the tide is showing signs of turning thanks to him.

    We know Costa is a phenomenal talent and Hiddink has tapped into that to make him a valuable part of this Chelsea team again.

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes