Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has hinted there is a conspiracy against striker Diego Costa. The Dutchman, 69, suggested the controversial Spain star is being pursued by the Football Association (FA) for his reaction to being sent off at Everton last weekend.
Costa, 27, was dismissed for a clash with Everton star Gareth Barry during their FA Cup tie at Goodison Park. During the incident, Costa opened his mouth as if to suggest he was going to bite the Everton midfielder.
Subsequently, the FA decided not to take any further action against Costa for the supposed bite. The governing body has, however, charged the Chelsea star with improper conduct in relation to his reaction to being shown the red card by Michael Oliver.
"It is a bit like, OK, you cannot prove the bite so sometimes, in my opinion, they are looking a bit where they can chase him," Hiddink said of Chelsea's goal hero, according to The Guardian. "What I smell and didn't like, and what I spoke about with Diego, is we both had the feeling they could not charge him on the kiss, 'but let's see what else we can get him for'.
"Maybe he is a bit marked in this. I know it's difficult if a player is frequently, bit by bit, provoked. We all do it… you play a bit with that, it's part of the game. You see how far can you get someone out of his comfort zone and into the red zone. So the player has to control himself. That is why I said I cannot guarantee Diego will not explode in matches. But maybe there was a little bit of searching for 'where we can get Diego'."
The Chelsea boss also revealed he has spoken to Costa about his on-field behaviour after his sending off at Goodison Park. "We have spoken about his reaction. We've talked many times about him playing on the edge. But I can never guarantee whether or not, bit by bit, he can be provoked," he said.
"It is a matter of temperament and character. But what we all would like is that he keeps playing as he has been, with a lot of 'blood' [and thunder]. He has been contributing a lot to the resurrection since December."