Lampard praises Hiddink
Frank Lampard (Gallo Images)
London - Chelsea matchwinner Frank Lampard, whose late goal killed off Wigan on Saturday, says the arrival of interim coach Guus Hiddink has bolstered the club's work rate.
After his 90th-minute goal sealed a 2-1 win to take the Blues second in the table the England midfielder said Hiddink had revitalised the side since replacing sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari last month.
"Guus has obviously made a positive difference to the team. He's come in within a short space of time to try make the difference.
"He's done it by just saying the simple things and getting us working hard on the training ground and tactically working hard to organise us a bit better," said Lampard.
Brazilian World Cup winner Scolari was dispensed with after barely half a season in charge amid reports Chelsea's training ground work-rate had slid below the level required to overhaul Manchester United in the Premiership title race.
Hiddink himself questioned his side's stamina after they tired in the final stages of their midweek Champions League win over Juventus.
"The players have reacted and we needed to do that. We must take responsibility and the players have worked harder in the last few weeks than maybe before. It is just a shame that we have let a gap open up at the top," Lampard said.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech meanwhile insisted Chelsea's dressing room spirit was solid as he moved to counter suggestions of a split between pro- and anti-Scolari factions.
"The players here have always had a great spirit in the dressing room and this is something you can't undermine," declared Cech.
"Actually I think this is why so many people stay here a long time and why this club has a lot of long-serving players. It tells a story which is that this club pulls everyone in the same direction."
Didier Drogba, named in some quarters along with Cech as being frustrated with Scolari's ill-fated reign but who has appeared galvanised by Hiddink's arrival, told The Observer he had not tried to engineer Scolari's removal amid reports of, some Chelsea stars meeting club officials to express unhappiness with the Brazilian.
"No, no, it's not true. The thing is, the boss was there all week and he spoke to all the players. It's wrong to say (Michael) Ballack, Petr Cech and me were having a meeting to decide about the future of one manager. It was a board decision, not the players' decision.
"We were all surprised that he (Scolari) went when he did, but everyone could see it was a bad situation and something had to change for the good of the team.
"I guess if you look at the results over the last two months it was clear to see something wasn't working."