Guus Hiddink claims the “intensity” of the Premier League is higher now compared to his first stint in temporary charge of Chelsea in 2009.
Hiddink returned to Stamford Bridge in December after Chelsea parted company with Jose Mourinho, and the Dutchman has so far overseen two wins and four draws.
However, Hiddink admits the Premier League is more competitive than his first spell in charge, when he guided Chelsea to FA Cup success and third place in the top flight, losing just one match in his 22 games in charge in all competitions – a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Hiddink told Chelsea’s official website: “Generally, I think the intensity in the league is higher and nowadays you see there are many clubs which can compete on a high level, due to the fact they also have more possibilities to sign players.
“Nowadays, you see teams halfway or over halfway up the league, which in the past you would normally not expect to be there, like Crystal Palace, Watford and Leicester.
“These were teams normally nearer the bottom or the second tier, but they are doing very well. Because they have made good signings, everyone now is capable of beating everyone else and you can see that in the results.”
Hiddink on young Chelsea stars
Hiddink is also aiming to introduce some of the club’s younger players if possible, but isn’t giving any guarantees.
He added: “My first focus was on getting together as soon as possible with the experienced players and the younger players to get the team rolling. But after being here for a few weeks now I have a better view, a better analysis of young players as well, after seeing them in training.
“We recently played a game with the Academy boys and you see their possibilities when you play games. We are trying to help. It is not easy to survive in the league but when we have the possibilities, if one is knocking on the door, maybe – but I don’t give any guarantees – we can see one or two players playing by May.”
Chelsea travel to London rivals Arsenal for their next Premier League match on Sunday, January 24.