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Interim manager Guus Hiddink believes Chelsea are in a 'transitional period' after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Paris, Chelsea struggled to match their French opponents before slipping to a 4-2 aggregate defeat.
The Blues' poor early season form in the Premier League means they are tenth in the Premier League, ten points off the top four, and are likely to miss out on Champions League qualification for the first time since Roman Abramovich bought the club.
They last missed out on the Champions League in the 2002-03 season, and Hiddink admits the club face an uncertain short-term future.
“It’s my opinion that Chelsea are in a transition period,” said Hiddink. "They have to see how they go on and try and regain the lost terrain where Chelsea used to be, that’s true.
"It was always going to be difficult to get into fourth position. We tried to do our first job, to get out of the relegation zone, but it was a very big gap to go and reach the top four. "Chelsea must consider its short-term future and how to handle what happens next. But they’ve known this for a while."
Fans booed Eden Hazard as he limped off with a hip injury late on after another mixed display.
The Belgium midfielder has struggled this season and fans vented their frustration as he made his way from the pitch.
"They have the right to boo whatever they think. One always has the right to express what he is feeling. But he was having a bit of a problem with his injury on his hip," Hiddink said.
Earlier, Hazard had swapped shirts with Angel di Maria at half-time, something Hiddink does not agree with.
"I’m aware of the shirt-swapping – it would be too easy for me just to say I haven’t seen it – and, yes, it should not be done. But in some countries it’s normal for people to do it. It’s in their culture. Maybe the players are both used to doing that, in the Latin world perhaps rather than in the north. It’s not a big issue for me, or for them," the Dutchman explained.