Courtois writes off Chelsea’s chances of making EPL top four

Thibaut Courtois says interim boss Guus Hiddink has restored confidence at Chelsea.

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Thibaut Courtois says interim boss Guus Hiddink has restored confidence at Chelsea, but admits they won’t reach the top four this season.

The defending champions lost nine of their first 16 league games, prompting the club to replace Jose Mourinho with Hiddink, and they have gone eight games unbeaten under the Dutchman.

However, they remain 13th in the Premier League ahead of the Super Sunday clash with Manchester United and Courtois says they must now focus on the Champions League and the FA Cup.

"Now things are changing, we are playing well, and we want to end the season well," he said in an exclusive interview with Soccer Saturday.

"Realistically, we want to try and win the FA Cup, but the draw we got against City will be almost like a final.

"The Champions League is a hard one, but in the Premier League we have to climb the table, and sixth or seventh is quite close.

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"Top four is very difficult, as it is already like 14 or 15 points.

"There are four teams competing for the title, so we know they won’t drop a lot of points. We want to get as high as possible, but top four is not realistic anymore."

Chelsea have picked up 14 points since Mourinho’s departure and Courtois, who returned to the side from injury at the start of December, praised Hiddink for making some minor tweaks.

And he says the players are training hard ahead of the final months of the campaign.

He added: "A lot of players have improved their game. Some of the team were struggling to find their form from last year, which has been the main problem all season.

"The Premier League is very difficult and if you are not at your top level then you won’t win games.  A few players have reached that level again, and we have started winning games.

DRAWING UP CONCLUSIONS

"Hiddink has adjusted some small details, he has not changed a lot. On the training pitch he has restored a bit of confidence. He has had some talks with the players, and that has helped.

"That bit of confidence can change things. When Diego [Costa] scored that first goal, he went on to get a few more. Sometimes it is that one moment that can change everything.

"We train really hard, with a great intensity. If we can transform that onto the pitch we will do really well."

Courtois also said club captain John Terry, who announced he is set to leave the club after he was not offered a new contract, will be missed by his team-mates next season.

"We have to respect the decision from the board and from John Terry. The other players are not involved," he said.

"Terry has been here 21 years, he is a legend, and will be missed, but it is a decision from him and board."