New Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink says he does not have any complaints about the attitude of striker Diego Costa ahead of his first match in charge of the club against Watford on Boxing Day.
Costa has struggled for form this season, having scored just four goals in 17 appearances in all competitions, while his physical and confrontational style has come under criticism. But Hiddink said he had only seen positive things from the 27-year-old forward in training and backed him to fire the defending champions into the top half of the Premier League table.
"I've worked with Diego Costa a few days, and in the past I've seen him on television a few times," Hiddink told the club's official website. "From what I experienced in the last few days, and I must also take into consideration the last game he played against Sunderland, he was in control. He was focused more on what he is hired for here, and that is to help to score or to assist and not going into other things," he added. "I think he was well controlled when I experienced him in the last days. I cannot have any complaints about him."
Hiddink defended Costa's aggressive attitude, likening it to his own reaction to being substituted once at half-time during his playing days. "He's an emotional guy. A long time ago, I was captain of my team and the manager substituted me at half-time. I wasn't used to that. I thought I'd performed but I threw off my armband and threw it at him," he stated.
"It was also an emotional reaction born of frustration. It was a sign of frustration. Sportsmen, even though they are on camera, are allowed to show a bit of emotion, but they must know five or 10 seconds later that they're wrong."
The former Netherlands boss reiterated that Chelsea can finish in the top four, despite currently lying just a point above the relegation zone in 15th place.
"Generally, I set targets: the target is, because mathematically it's possible, to get in fourth position. To do that we have to be exclusively good. If the target is impossible, don't set it, but I did put that to them," the interim boss said.
"Then the Champions League; and then the FA Cup. There are three targets still to go for. On top of that, or as a foundation of that, the players must show now what they're capable of."
Chelsea follow up their home match against Watford with a trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on 28 December.