Costa had been on his best behaviour since Hiddink’s arrival in December
. “In principle, I protect every man but it’s not good to do something stupid,” the Dutchman said. Idiocy may have been the lenient interpretation. Many of Costa’s underhand, unpleasant and unnecessary antics have gone unnoticed by officials but two blatant barges on Gareth Barry resulted in <... href="https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/12/diego-costa-everton-bite-claims-chelsea-gareth-barry">a first dismissal in England. Barry denied Costa bit him, which, as Luis Suárez incurred a 10-game suspension for such an offence, would surely have brought his season to premature conclusion.
Hiddink’s arrival in December a first dismissal in England denied Costa bit him incurred a 10-game suspension Instead, he remains Hiddink’s problem for a little longer. “I have sympathy for him but nevertheless talk about how he can control himself,” the veteran said. He had coaxed Costa back to form with comforting words but accepts there are limits to the powers of his eloquence. “I do not have any guarantee – because he is not a machine, he is a human being – that he will not one time explode a bit.”
Lukaku proved explosive in rather more admirable fashion. A five-minute double transformed a dull draw into a potentially catalytic win. A storming solo run showed his capacity as a game-changer. Such potency could have been unleashed in a Chelsea shirt but he only started one league game for them. Chelsea recouped £28m when selling the Belgian in 2014. His value has escalated subsequently, prompting suggestions they may return to Goodison with a club record bid.
a potentially catalytic win recouped £28m Everton have been reluctant sellers over the years, their pride meaning they resent the suggestion they are a stepping stone to the top. Farhad Moshiri’s purchase of 49.9% of the club has meant ambitions have been expanded and budgets increased. It does not necessarily mean Everton will retain their prized assets.
purchase of 49.9% of the club “Not really, no,” Martínez said, when asked if the key to future success was repelling bids for youthful jewels such as Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones. The soundtrack to Everton’s win against Chelsea in September was the Beatles-inspired: “Money can’t buy you Stones.” Now it transpires it might. “If Manchester United cannot keep Cristiano Ronaldo, that is a sign of a modern game,” Martínez argued. “If you sell a player for those sorts of amounts, you can get the benefit of adding three or four players.”
win against Chelsea in September “Money can’t buy you Stones.” An expensive upgrade is envisioned at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte should be confirmed as manager soon. Thoughts are already turning to next season. For now, Chelsea, who long exuded an unshakeable sense of purpose, find their games deprived of their usual meaning. Eleven points adrift of the top four, they have exited two competitions in four days, leaving them in limbo with an interim manager and an interlude before competitive matches acquire their normal significance.
should be confirmed as manager soon Hiddink is a caretaker contemplating the prospect of revolution. “It is not for me to put my footprint on it,” he said. “The people who are in charge must make the analysis.” He will be an avuncular observer, looking for evidence of character. “Now is a difficult time and it is good to see who is standing up,” he said.
The implication for Chelsea’s underachievers is clear. They have Conte to impress, if not Hiddink. “If you are a player at a big club, it is a privileged situation. Players should act towards that,” the 69-year-old said. “They should show they are worthy of playing at a big club.”
For swaths of this season, Costa, along with Radamel Falcao, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fàbregas, Nemanja Matic, Oscar and Pedro, has not. The striker’s capacity to cause mayhem meant that one whose commitment has been more of a constant, John Terry, played his final FA Cup game for the club as a makeshift attacker. It was a snapshot of how a game, and a season, went very wrong for Chelsea.
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