Hiddink gets tough with Barça
Saturday 02 May 2009
Like his Chelsea team at the Nou Camp, manager Guus Hiddink knows how to put up a pretty bullish defence when it is required. Barcelona continue to complain about the English side's negative approach and supposed strong-arm tactics in Tuesday's 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
But Hiddink was having none of it yesterday, as he calmly responded to the Barça moans with a simple but effective refrain. Sounding more like a no-nonsense PE teacher from a bygone era than a multi-lingual football manager of the 21st century, Hiddink repeated the mantra: "It's a man's game."
Chelsea's temporary manager was totally unrepentant about his side's display. He denied they were in the slightest bit dirty, and blamed Barcelona's dominance of possession for his team's lack of goal threat. Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta had claimed Chelsea's "system seems to be to kick us." But the idea is an anathema to Hiddink, who is the most successful coach ever in the Netherlands, a country revered almost as much as Brazil for playing the beautiful game.
"I emphasise on being a winner, not giving in and starting to cry when it's not going well," Hiddink said. "It was a man's match. We don't like to allow them to take the victory. This team has the character to fight as well. There were some collisions, some friction, but from both sides. It's a man's game.
"I challenge and invite everyone to watch the DVD to see what really happened. There was one challenge from Michael Ballack that was punished with a yellow card from the referee. It's a man's game. We played our game. We don't like to lose; we want to win in a proper way. But if we can't play in the way we like, we don't throw in the towel." Hiddink said Barcelona were no saints. "If you can't easily win, you must not be easily beaten," he said. "But it's the same for Barcelona. They have Touré, Abidal, Pique and Puyol who understand this approach so well. It's not a black and white situation."
Hiddink also bridled at suggestions that Barcelona's 4-0 thrashing of Bayern Munich in the first leg of the quarter-finals had made him fearful and negative. "We can't say 'sorry' for not conceding a goal. You can't call it 'anti-football'," he said. "I'd like to have taken a little bit more of the initiative, but they are a disciplined team as well. Under Pep Guardiola, they know how to defend firmly. Fear? No. We don't know fear."
Hiddink would like to rest key players from today's derby with Fulham ahead of the return leg with Barcelona on Wednesday but said he would resist the temptation to tinker too much, with Arsenal on their shoulders in the race for third place. "The first target was to get to the Champions League directly," said Hiddink. "The fourth place is a back door, but we want one of the first three places."
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
- 3 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile