It took Guus Hiddink a while to warm to the talented youth at Chelsea after his appointment as interim manager, but slowly and surely, he's given significant minutes as of late to the trio of Bertrand Traoré, Kenedy, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, all of whom have been training with the first-team since the start of the season.
After the great showing in the pseudo-exhibition against Aston Villa, which saw a debuts for Matt Miazga and Jake Clarke-Salter, another start for Kenedy, and a full 90 minutes for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Hiddink doubled down on his bullishness over the kids.
"He had a rather comfortable game, although it's not easy to play [Rudy] Gestede, but I think he showed he does have the potential. To be honest, this was not the toughest game; when the really good war is going you have to consider how you cope with that, but it's a good first step for him."
"He's coming from a league where it's a bit naïve and he has to get used to referees in this country giving a little bit more freedom to the attackers, which I like. He has to get used to a little bit of a shuffle, a little bit of a push, where in other leagues the referee might be giving free-kicks. I accept that and like it very much but that's a bit of naivety he has to leave as soon as possible. But I didn't see much of that."
"Miazga's young, although he looks a little bit older, and the club has to decide what to do for next year, but I don't mind bringing in youngsters."
"It's important for him to get the substance of games. He was used to being substituted after one hour but on purpose we let him go and suffer a bit. He had the experience of 90 minutes, although it's not the highest tempo game, but they have to experience it. He had a little bit of cramp at the end and I said, "Come on, that's good for you!" They have to suffer a bit, that's good."
On youth in general:
"It's good to see these youngsters especially in this late part of the league. It's good for English football having these guys. Other clubs have them too, it's good to see."
"When you have an Academy like Chelsea has for a long time, it's not easy but you must give the players the chance to step up. That's what we are doing in the second part of the season."
-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC
As we had learned repeatedly with Mourinho, talk is cheap and actions may not necessarily match the grand intentions stated in front of the microphones. Hiddink had appeared to be going down a similar road early on, but lately he's actually followed up with appropriate action. With seven games left in the season and, despite Saturday's win, the chance of reaching Europe still mostly just a mathematical exercise, let's hope that will continue against stronger opposition than hapless Villa, too.