Hiddink clears the way for approach by England

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Guus Hiddink, the manager of PSV Eindhoven and Australia, is threatening to leave Holland this summer after all, which would put him right back in contention to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as England's head coach.

The highly qualified Dutchman appeared to have ruled himself out by announcing that he wanted to honour the last year of his contract with PSV and could only take charge of a national team on a part-time basis. That would prove unacceptable to the Football Association, who would also be reluctant to install a temporary team of, say, Sir Trevor Brooking and Stuart Pearce to do the job for 12 months until Hiddink became available. But a combination of the Dutch tax authorities and PSV's directors may now prompt him to walk out.

Tax problems stem from the period when he returned from the 2002 World Cup, having guided South Korea to a semi-final, and decided to live for a while in Belgium to take advantage of tax rates barely half of those at home. Holland's Inland Revenue are now demanding substantial back-payments and Hiddink has found himself embroiled in a court case. Claiming he has been stigmatised as "a criminal", he has said that if found guilty, he will only remain at PSV until the end of the season.

Relations with the Eindhoven club are also strained because of demands that he must again sell players this summer to reduce debt. Two seasons ago Hiddink lost Arjen Robben, Mateja Kezman and Dennis Rommedahl; last summer, after an unlucky European Cup semi-final defeat against Milan, Mark van Bommel went to Barcelona, Ji-Sung Park to Manchester United and Johann Vogel to Milan. PSV still lead the Dutch League and have a Champions' League tie against Lyon this week, but Hiddink says he has twice built new teams there and is not prepared to do so again.

All of which ought to give pause for thought to the three-man committee due to report tomorrow week to the full FA board. One of them, Dave Richards, has stated his desire for a British manager, later revised to an English one. Another, Brian Barwick, is an admirer of Martin O'Neill, who is likely to be available now that his wife's health is improving, although he is reported to have been offered the Newcastle manager's job.

The less insular members of the board will want to consider all-comers, regardless of nationality. Hiddink, with his two World Cup semi-finals (1988 and 2002) and a European Cup win (1988 with PSV), is the outstanding foreign candidate.

As speculation continued, the FA felt compelled to issue another statement on Friday denying that any individuals have yet been approached, officials insisting that next week's meeting will be purely to discuss the sub-committee's recommendations about the procedure for selecting potential candidates.