James Lawton: Like a hurricane, Hiddink's force looks just short-term

Chelsea at times were so ferocious you might have thought someone had just gathered them together for not just a lecture on football but a lesson in life. But then apparently somebody had – and for the second time in less than a week.

It is of course, what Guus Hiddink does. He did it at Villa Park at the weekend with such biting authority, and simple logic, that Martin O'Neill's upwardly mobile team where thrust into a downward spin. Here last night, Claudio Ranieri's Juventus were threatened with something close to instant destruction.

Juve survived the early storm – it came blowing in with some of that old trademarked force of Didier Drogba – without being quite obliterated, a distinct possibility, it seemed, when Drogba surged on to a lacerating through pass by Salomon Kalou to open the scoring after 13 minutes. But as Chelsea, and not least Drogba, managed to produce a series of such eruptions stretching into the second half, Juventus, perhaps understandably, never quite lost the wide-eyed look of victims of an ambush.

That they also managed to reply at times with some force, and moments of threatening skill from such as veteran Alessandro Del Piero, was an impressive enough tribute to the team ethos that Ranieri, despite his tinkering tendency, managed to create from time to time in his reign at Chelsea. Yet the story of the night – and the meaning of Chelsea's performance – was always going to be mostly about the force of Hiddink's effort to rescue a team apparently locked into unshakeable decline when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sent on his way by Roman Abramovich.

Hiddink has been emphatic about the temporary nature of his fire-fighting effort at Stamford Bridge and despite the early fury unleashed by his new troops it was not so hard to understand why he might be anxious to return to the guidance of the Russian national team he renovated so brilliantly in time for last summer's European Championship.

The Dutchman made a European Cup-winning team with PSV Eindhoven in his native Netherlands 21 years ago but for some time now his preferred line of work has been away from the day-in, day-out demands of controlling, and inspiring, the wealthy stars in the heightened pressure of club football. He has become a soldier of international football fortune, a heroic figure in places like South Korea and Australia and now Russia – and, when you think about it, would you really want to swop such relatively easy-going pleasure for the kind of major reconstruction job which, despite the vigour of last night's effort, plainly faces whoever attempts to permanently work on the accelerating ruin of the team Scolari just could not save or shape.

Could it, despite his protestations, be Hiddink? If it is really true Abramovich's heart remains in the club, if he still wants to build his plaything back to the force it was displaying in the first two years of Jose Mourinho, he may well decide to make Hiddink an offer that might be somewhat difficult to refuse.

Certainly the short-term effect of the Hiddink factor is already as plain as a slap in the face.

Chelsea played like a team who believed in something more than the weight of their own reputations. Frank Lampard was immense in his leadership, John Terry has rarely tackled so formidably, but the point of most dramatic impact lay at the front of the side, where Drogba and Nicolas Anelka involved themselves in the kind of routine effort that had dwindled almost from sight in those days of Scolari's fading impact.

How well will Hiddink be able to sustain such commitment through the rigours of the Champions League and the effort to re-instant some of their old weight in the Premier League? It is something those who know him best believe in with some confidence, but probably Hiddink would tell them that you can live on new resolutions and revived spirit only for so long.

The brutal truth, as Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested with battering-ram force, is that Chelsea are a team in desperate need of redrawing.

This was a result which might indeed carry Chelsea forward in Europe, but perhaps only so far. There was fine effort but, apart from the impact of Drogba's goal, there was very little of the kind of flowing self-belief that marks out teams who believe they have a future.

Hiddink has made his move into command with predictable authority, and just as inevitably, the players have responded. However, here is an old pro of great quality making the best of a not too promising situation. If Abramovich wants more of the same, he cannot expect it piecemeal. Hiddink is, we were reminded last night, a football man who has the right to do what pleases him.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas