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Hiddink Coming Back?


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Guus Hiddink plans to return to Chelsea as technical director following his failure to guide Russia to the World Cup. Hiddink said yesterday that an announcement on his future could come as early as next month. He has a contract as Russia's head coach until the end of June 2010 but sources say the Dutchman will almost certainly quit and take a job at Chelsea.

The 63-year-old had a successful spell as Chelsea's temporary manager last season, stepping in after the departure of Luiz Felipe Scolari and winning the FA Cup. He remains on extremely good terms with the club's owner, Roman Abramovich, who finances Hiddink's $8m (£4.85m) annual salary as Russia's coach and also underwrites the country's national football academy and other projects.

Chelsea have made no secret that they would welcome back Hiddink with open arms. It is understood that no talks have taken place but that the club would be delighted if he were to take up a position. They emphasised when he left last summer that he "will always be welcome back at Chelsea as a friend and in any other football capacity".

It is understood his role at Stamford Bridge would be to offer support to Carlo Ancelotti and would not threaten the manager. He would, though, be able to step in as a trouble-shooter should Chelsea, who are top of the Premier League and have qualified from the group stage of the Champions League, unexpectedly begin to falter.

A source close to Hiddink said: "He would go back and would be in position [to assist] if something is going not that well." He added: "The Chelsea players like him. He's already been at the club. There is a proverb in Russian that you can step twice into the same water. It is something he is capable of."

Ancelotti said yesterday that he would be happy to work with Hiddink. "Guus Hiddink is my friend," he said before today's game at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. "If he has free time, he can come to Chelsea and we can train together. It's not a problem." Jokingly, he added: "Maybe I could take a little holiday."

It is unclear how a role for Hiddink as technical director would impact on Frank Arnesen's recently adopted duties as sporting director, given that the Dane deals with player recruitment, youth development and Chelsea's extensive scouting department. Arnesen's position at the club was recently strengthened by Peter Kenyon's departure as chief executive, with Ron Gourlay stepping up from within the club to replace him.

Hiddink's plans should be clarified shortly. "I think my future will be decided relatively quickly," he told Russia's Sovietsky Sport newspaper yesterday. He expects a formal decision to be made in the next month or in January and is unlikely to accept an offer from any other Premier League club.

The Dutchman said that the Russian football federation approached him last month, before a defeat by Germany in Moscow in a World Cup qualifier, over a possible new contract. But he looks set to leave after the World Cup play-off defeat by Slovenia – with powerful forces inside Russia's football federation now said to be openly plotting against him.

Yesterday Russian state-run newspapers squarely blamed Hiddink for Russia's failure to overcome Slovenia. Russia went into Wednesday's second leg with a 2-1 advantage after last Saturday's match in Moscow but lost 1-0 to be eliminated on the away goal and had two players, including Chelsea's Yuri Zhirkov, sent off.

"You have to be honest. Russian football has taken a step backwards," Hiddink said. "To play in the World Cup is always prestigious for a country. I know a lot of Russians were planning to go to South Africa. But we have to carry on working – as before the future of the Russian team is linked to the majority of players in today's squad."

Hiddink took over as Russia's coach in 2006. He guided the national side through a tricky qualifying group including England and Croatia and took the team to a historic semi-final place in the 2008 European Championship. At the height of his success Hiddink was more popular in Russia than Vladimir Putin, no mean feat.

But on this occasion the fortune he previously enjoyed in World Cup finals with Holland, Australia and South Korea eluded him. Even before Wednesday's away defeat some observers suggested that Hiddink had tired and grown fed up with the Russia job – pointing out he spent only 30 days in Russia this year.

Hiddink's likely departure from Russia comes against the backdrop of a murky, long-running power struggle inside the Russian football federation. Vitaly Mutko, Russia's sports minister, is stepping down as the association's chairman. His successor is Sergei Fursenko, the former manager of Zenit St Petersburg, which is backed by the Russian state energy giant Gazprom.

Mutko was a close ally of Abramovich. Fursenko, by contrast, belongs to a different faction from St Petersburg with influential allies inside the Russian government. Fursenko will want to install his people in key positions, and will also seek to replace Hiddink with his own choice of manager, observers believe.

The front-runner to succeed Hiddink is rumoured to be Roberto Mancini, the former Internazionale coach. Mancini was in Russia two weeks ago watching several league matches. The 44-year-old former Italy international has not had a coaching job since he left Inter in May 2008.

guardian.co.uk

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Would anyone want him to replace Ancelotti if given the chance?

Defiantly not. Ancelotti brings alot to our team and the players seem to be very close to him at the moment. Would be very happy to see him back at Chelsea but somewhere behind the scenes, possibly with the youth or even assisting Carlo in some way but not as first team coach.

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We would be very lucky to get Hiddink back in some form. But we have to be very careful because Ancelotti is doing a fantastic job here with us, we need to make sure he is happy with whatever is in place 100%. To have Hiddink overseeing all footballing aspects would be very good.

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From what I've heard Hiddink and Ancelotti are good friends and he has no problem with him working with Chelsea. After all, wasn't Hiddink the man who recommended Carlo for the position?

Edited by Tech9C
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I guess it was in the press meet before Wolves game when a journo asked if he wud welcome Hiddink back.. Carlo said - 'Y not?? We could may be coach 2gether!!' He was joking though :) I dont see Carlo havin any problem if Guus does come back. Carlo is used to working in dat structure since his Milan days.. But like EskWeston said, it has to be done with the complete backing of Carlo..

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  • 4 weeks later...
Russia coach Guus Hiddink could return to Chelsea as early as next month.

The Mail on Sunday says Hiddink is being lined up for a return to Chelsea as technical director in the new year, which will increase the intense pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti to deliver the Champions League or Premier League title.

The Dutchman will decide his future next month after a new president of the Russian FA has been elected.

He is unlikely to prolong his contract with the national team.

Hiddink does not wish to be linked to other clubs while he is still under contract to Russia, but remains in contact with Chelsea officials and has spoken about his desire to return in a consultancy role on board.

Mail on Sunday
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