English Premiership

Essien: Chelsea owe Hiddink

2009-04-18 09:03
Chelsea's Michael Essien (Gallo Images)

London - Michael Essien has revealed the prospect of delivering silverware for temporary manager Guus Hiddink is proving a major incentive for the Chelsea squad.

Ghana midfielder Essien is now fully recovered after a seven-month lay-off with a knee injury and ready to play a full part in his club's bid for honours

When Hiddink took charge following Luiz Felipe Scolari's dismissal in February, Chelsea were out of form and in danger of falling out of the top four of the Premier League.

But the arrival of the Dutchman - together with Essien's return to fitness - has helped transform the club's season with Chelsea not yet out of the title race and facing a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

With Hiddink set to return to his full-time job as coach of the Russia national team at the end of the season, Essien admits the Blues squad would hate to see the manager leave empty-handed.

"Guus has come in and done a great job," the midfielder said.

"He has his own style of managing this team, how he talks to his players, and so far things are going well for us. We'll see what happens next.

"Everybody knows what a good manager he is. He knows how to talk to players and he has his own style which is very different to the others I've played for here.

"Hopefully we can win something for him before he leaves. But we'll see what happens. We have some really big games coming up that aren't going to be easy. We'll just have to try our best to win those games."

Essien, 26, damaged knee ligaments whilst on international duty last September but has made an immediate impact since coming back - especially in the Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool when he marked Reds skipper Steven Gerrard out of the game.

Wile the player admits his spell on the sidelines was frustrating, he believes he is now stronger than ever ahead of the climax to the campaign.

He added: "While I was injured I watched all the games from home, and in the stadium. All I wanted to do was to get myself fit and come back and join the team.

"Now I think the knee is stronger. It's feels perfectly normal. There's no pain in there now. Maybe I'm more hungry for the coming games now. It was a very long lay-off for me, but I'm happy to be back."

Essien's versatility has already seen him used in several midfield positions by Hiddink but the player himself insists he has no preference where he plays.

And after initially falling foul of referees when he first came to England, he is confident he has now adapted fully to the Premier League and has cleaned up his disciplinary record.

"I don't know where my best position is," he said. "I don't mind working for the team. I'll play anywhere I'm asked to play.

"I'm not a different player. I'm still the same player. When I first came here, I was more physical and the referees got it wrong against me.

"But I've adapted to English football and I don't get the cards I used to do. I do jump in but I try to be fair. I don't take the player as well, which is why I don't get the cards I used to. It came naturally. That's football."

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