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Hiddink: Russia is Chelsea mad

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Russia coach Guus Hiddink admits Chelsea are the country's favourite foreign club.

The former Blues boss told Chelsea TV: "Chelsea is very popular in Russia and also other places where I go.

"Of course we made a lot of impression the last months and when I am inMoscow people come to me and talk about the Russian team which is doingwell but also about Chelsea."


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The whole interview with Guus who visit us few days ago after Russia match against Wales.


Waiting for the players when they returned from their international travels on Thursday afternoon was not just one but two Chelsea managers. Admittedly one is now an ex-Chelsea manager but it wouldn't have been a total surprise if one of the players, a little weary after last night's efforts, had passed Guus Hiddink in the corridor at Cobham and asked,'What time do we start training boss?'

That didn't happen but needless to say there were plenty of warm greetings and catch-up conversations as they noticed who was visiting, as well as a lengthy chat between the Dutch coach and his successor from Italy.

Even as Chelseafc.com spent a few minutes talking to Guus on the balcony overlooking the training ground car park, the arrival of the England players down below meant some lengthy interruptions to the interview.

Appropriately Guus was clothed all in blue, including a brand new pair of blue suede blues, and it was clear he was enjoying his short time back at the club he had charmed and led to silverware success last season.

It is good to see you. Is this a surprise visit?

Yes, I came from Cardiff last night after Russia's good win in Wales, a very important game for us although it doesn't seem to be very important publicity-wise. But it was important to still be in with a chance when we play against Germany in October. So we didn't have to lose in Wales so that was good.

So I popped in here because of course I worked here with a lot of joy and I like to see the people who I worked with in the recent months. It was thrilling to see those people and also new people here like Carlo [Ancelotti] - and Ray Wilkins of course.

You had a good chat with the new manager.

I knew Carlo from before so it was not new to me and I know what kind of person he is, he fits very well in Chelsea I think. His English is getting very good but also considering that, Ray is very important because of his languages, Italian and English. He is of huge help.

Have you caught up with everyone you wanted to see and considering Russia's big game with Germany to come, has Michael Ballack avoided you?

I haven't seen all the English yet, I think they are celebrating the victory over Croatia. On the contrary with Michael, he was one of the first who saw me and came to me and said, 'Ah, we have a clash in October.'

That is good, it is what it is all about in sport. They are in the driver's seat and we have to challenge them as a new team. It is good for the Russian team to be there at the moment with a new young team and to face Michael Ballack in October will be a nice challenge.

With Russia just one point behind the Germans and they to visit you in the next game, it is shaping up to be one of the most exiting groups.

We are both doing very well and we just conceded one defeat and they just one draw which means the rest of the teams are out, but it is very challenging. We must try to go through the front door by beating them or the back door by winning the play-offs.

Unfortunately we have yet to see Yury Zhirkov in a competitive game although he was in training with you and is in full training today. What can he bring to Chelsea?

Although he had a difficult pre-season because of his injury, I have heard the comments already from the players and staff that he is very skilful and very fast. It is a pity he has had this pre-season but when he adapts himself, and he will adapt, and learns the new language as soon as possible which I challenge him to do, then he will be of great use to Chelsea because he is a skilful player.

He has to adapt to another culture but all the players are always keen on new players to help them out.

With the system Carlo plays he will have to play differently to the way you utilise him for Russia. Will he find that easy?

He can play in some different spots. He can play at left full-back but he can also play on the left of the midfield diamond. He is multi-useful.

Carlo has changed the formation from the one mostly played over the past five seasons. You are not surprised the players can adapt so smoothly?

There have not been many, many changes in what we have played the last four months of last season. It is the same players almost and they know what to do and Carlo has a lot of experience. He knows how to use the players and it is smoothly changing and the team is giving a very strong impression.


Have you been watching Chelsea this season?

Not all games, but I saw various flashes and it was good to see. They look powerful and they have this appearance of - hey, it is difficult to play us - and they are doing well. The midfield is working very well and the defence know what to do.

Winning that trophy at the end of last season was a good boost for the club?

It was already growing in the previous months with what they did in the Premier League and the Champions League. In the Champions League it was outstanding with difficult games against Liverpool and Barcelona, but they managed to do very well.

Have you noticed Chelsea is an even bigger story in Russia since your stay?

Chelsea is very popular in Russia and also other places where I go. Of course we made a lot of impression the last months and when I am in Moscow people come to me and talk about the Russian team which is doing well but also about Chelsea.

Finally, everyone in England is now getting excited about the World Cup. As a very experienced coach on the international scene, can you see them doing well in South Africa?

They know what they have to do and they did well in qualification. In the previous times it was a little shaky but now it is stable. They are a very competitive team, very strong in midfield, up front they are strong also and it is a complete team with experience. They have a good chance to do beautiful things in South Africa.

Edited by Kajo
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