LONDON, February 23 – Frank Lampard believes Gus Hiddink has already demonstrated he is the right man to get Chelsea back on track
Hiddink started his reign as Blues boss with a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday that lifted Chelsea above their opponents into third place in the Premier League.
Lampard was instrumental in that success as the England midfielder produced a man of the match display capped by the sublime pass that set up Nicolas Anelka’s first half winner.
But the Chelsea talisman was more than happy to give credit to Hiddink for settling in so quickly after his dramatic arrival as replacement for sacked Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Hiddink, who has also retained his position as Russia coach, has made a big impression on Lampard with the quiet but purposeful way he carries out his work at the club’s training ground.
"I’d never met him before working with him this past week, so it was interesting to see he is a very serious guy," Lampard said.
"It’s important we have someone like that to help us move forward, but he also has a sense of humour, he relates to players, and I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen of him.
"He has a certain aura about him, something that top managers and coaches have, certainly the best ones I’ve worked with have that.
"They have a sense of fear about them, and when they say even the smallest thing, it makes you realise things on the pitch. He’s got that.
"He doesn’t say too much, but when he says something, it really matters. In watching his Russian teams recently, they are technically very good, with a lot of movement and passing.
"In training we’ve worked very hard this week on passing the ball quickly, moving it, being organised, something we really needed."
After a series of lacklustre displays in the final weeks of Scolari’s brief reign, Lampard was delighted to see Chelsea show some of the defiant spirit that characterised the Jose Mourinho era.
Former Chelsea boss Mourinho transformed Chelsea into title winners by building a highly-efficient team that ground down opponents in the way they saw off Villa on Saturday.
"There was a little bit of the old Chelsea out there, that spirit, and the way we played," Lampard said.
"We looked a bit more like ourselves. You could see the commitment in the lads, that never say die spirit when Villa were throwing balls into the box.
"We also scored early and closed out the game, something we used to do regularly and it used to get on people’s nerves because we could get those 1-0 wins away from home.
"That’s something we’ve lost touch a little with this season. We’ve drawn too many games in a frustrating manner."
Despite their Villa Park victory, Chelsea remain 10 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United and Lampard concedes there is a long way to go before his team will be happy with their season.
A victory over Juventus, managed by former Blues coach Claudio Ranieri, in Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg is first on the hit list for Lampard and company.
"We’ve still a lot ahead of us over the next few weeks. If we want to push for the title, or to at least stay in the top four and push on, we need to put a long run of wins together," he added.
"The attitude we showed in this game, we need to show it game in and game out.
"So this is only a start. There’s no way we can get carried away and say ‘we’re back’."