Hiddink to copy United blueprint for success

Manager calls for Chelsea to start thinking ahead if they are to close gap at top

Guus Hiddink admitted yesterday that Manchester United had left the rest of the Premier League behind and Chelsea would have to copy Sir Alex Ferguson's strategies if they were to have any hope of competing with them in the future. The Dutchman said that Chelsea had to start thinking "two steps ahead", instead of just focusing on the short term.

The interim Chelsea manager, whose side can close the gap to United to four points if they beat Portsmouth tonight, said that he was not "scared" by the prospect of trying to compete with Ferguson for the three major trophies left this season. However, the bad news for Chelsea is that Nicolas Anelka is almost certain to miss tonight's game after bruising a toe, thus depriving Hiddink of his top goalscorer. With Liverpool's title challenge fading, and Arsenal's non-existent, it was put to Hiddink that he is arguably the last manager capable of denying Ferguson his 11th Premier League title. In an echo of Kevin Keegan's famous 1996 television rant – although delivered in a considerably calmer mood – Hiddink said he would "love" to stop Ferguson claiming all four major trophies. "I hope that we can stop him," he said, "I'd love to stop him [achieving] this aim."

However, it was Hiddink's assessment of Ferguson the manager which gave an insight into just how far Chelsea have to go to catch up. "He [Ferguson] has a very good organisation, he thinks one or two steps ahead, about what will happen next year or the year after," Hiddink said. "We have to make our philosophy and strategy not only for now but for the future. You make reports on your players and try to foresee what the future is. That's what they [United] do very well. They prepare their near future very well, from what I can see. There's good balance in their [squad's] age groups.

"Yes, they have been a very dominant, organised club for many years. It's a good philosophy, in my opinion. Other clubs may try to go the same way – some clubs have their own academies as well, like this club. You want to make your players competitive for the first-team squad, as well."

Such is Hiddink's determination to return to his Russia coach job full-time at the end of the season, he would not even discuss what Chelsea's long-term future might be, preferring instead to say it was "a question for the management" of the club. So far, not one of the club's academy graduates has made an impression on the first team, despite a considerable investment from owner Roman Abramovich.

Shortly before Hiddink's arrival, Chelsea's Under-18 team, which is stocked largely with players bought by the out-of-favour chief scout and director of youth development Frank Arnesen, were eliminated from the FA Youth Cup by Liverpool's equivalent team. As for the age profile of the first-team squad, there seems to be no change in the reliance on the older players, such as Frank Lampard (30), Didier Drogba (31 this month), Anelka (pictured, 30 this month), Ricardo Carvalho (29) and John Terry (28).

On Ferguson himself, Hiddink said he was not daunted by the prospect of coming into a league that Ferguson has competed in for more than 22 years and in which his power and influence range far and wide. "I don't know if people are scared of him," Hiddink said. "I was not scared. I don't know whether players or young managers are scared of him, but I'm not fully aware of everything.

"Why should up-and-coming managers be scared of him?" Now that Chelsea are in second place, albeit on goal difference, Hiddink was duty-bound to say his team have a chance of catching United, but even he was not certain. "As long as there is a possibility, you never know. But, realistically, it will be difficult," he said.

The long-awaited comeback of Michael Essien, out since September, is now imminent. The midfielder was due to play, along with Carvalho, in last night's reserve game against Aston Villa.

So far, Hiddink and Ferguson have never faced one another as managers, apart from a 2004 friendly between United and PSV Eindhoven. Hiddink said mistakenly yesterday that they had – "Berry Van Aerle gave away a penalty" – but the game he was referring to was in November 1984. Ferguson was manager of Aberdeen but Hiddink was only assistant manager to Jan Reker. Gordon Strachan scored the penalty and Aberdeen won 1-0.

"It [football] is an addiction so you can empathise with Sir Alex," Hiddink said. "He tried to pack it in once a few years ago... Then he got bored. This is football. It's in his body."

Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London