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Thibaut Courtois on the positive psychological effects of José Mourinho's sacking

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Wake up call.

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Standing only one point above the relegation zone after 16 matches played this season, Chelsea's board took the decision to sack José Mourinho. Despite the poor season, this decision wasn't exactly the most popular with the fans, but since then has brought four games without defeat.

But it wasn't all down to the manager (even though he was the one to take hit).  Perhaps the drastic measures taken served as a wake-up call to the team that they need to pick up their games as well.

"We know we are responsible as well. We had team meetings where we said the same, we said ‘ok the manager has gone but we are responsible as well. We need to pick up our level because we are not playing good enough for a Chelsea player'. Now we are stepping up our game and that's good."

"When results are not good the first one to get criticised is the manager, but it's not only the manager - the players have to take responsibility as well. We were the ones not playing as well."

"With a new manager some things change. Maybe some players the mentality changed, things change. We picked up some good results, some good football and then it goes again. We are still the same team that last year were the champions with Mourinho."

"It's something psychological. Sometimes it changes with little changes. Maybe we needed a change to pick up our level again, I don't know. I was out of the team for three months [with injury], so it is hard to say there was a problem in those months."

A new manager means new routines, new ideas, new concepts.  There can't be too many as a mid-season interim appointment, but Hiddink does approach the game differently than Mourinho.

"He has said some things that he wants us to do, some different aspects of the game. The training is different as well. Sometimes it's his approach in how he wants us to train, maybe sometimes it's a bit more tactical or a bit less."

"There are different types of little games we play or sometimes more shooting on goal to give confidence to the strikers. Sometimes he is more outside of training, more observing."

"He leaves training to Steve Holland and Eddie [Newton], and he just puts in when he thinks 'I need to explain this to the team'. When he explains, he explains it well. Every manager has his way of working."

While we don't know exactly what Mourinho's trainings looked like, it does sound like Hiddink has concentrated on changing just a few crucial aspects, and has left the bulk of training to the assistants.  Wonder from which of his former four managers serve as the source of most of Steve Holland's ideas and methods?

With Chelsea seemingly working up a small head of steam for the new year, Courtois's still hopeful that the Blues can manage to win the FA Cup and perhaps even the Champions League.

"Obviously, if you win the FA Cup or Champions League, it will be a positive. Maybe 'success' is a big word after not playing well until the last three or four games. But with the FA Cup or the Champions League it could still be a positive season and if we end up in the top four or top six."

"We have to go step by step. Some teams are close to each other and if we win against West Brom or Everton we could be eighth or ninth in a few weeks. Everything can go very fast, we just need to have the results."

"You know how it goes in the FA Cup, we can play every team. First we have Scunthorpe and we have to be prepared. It will be a hard game, there are no easy matches in England. After that you don't know who you're going to get."

"You could play only the smaller teams and only face a bigger one for the final. But you can also be eliminated like we were against Bradford last year, the FA Cup can go very fast. But, hopefully, we can win it and then the Champions League. You never know."

Lastly, Courtois was asked to comment on Didier Drogba's potential return to the club.  Unsurprisingly, Courtois is looking forward to having the Blues legend back at the club.

"I had a good relationship with him. Last year, he was a great addition to the dressing room and our team. If he comes back as a coach it would be a great addition to the squad and all the team."

-Thibaut Courtois; source: Telegraph