Hiddink will leave despite Roman's plea
Chelsea owner finally has a manager he likes – it's just a shame he's leaving in 50 days
Saturday 11 April 2009
Roman Abramovich has spent nearly six years searching for the ideal manager who can meet his exacting standards. Now it seems he might have finally found his man, albeit only temporarily.
Guus Hiddink has received the official stamp of approval from the Chelsea owner in the aftermath of the club's exhilarating 3-1 triumph at Liverpool on Wednesday night. Hiddink got a message from the club's owner, the gist of which was that finally Abramovich – who was in Israel for Passover – was happy.
"He did not speak to me directly but through his man, he expressed his joy about the win," Hiddink said. "And also, because he likes good attacking football and the way of playing, he expressed his joy at that."
Hiddink certainly appears to fit the bill for Abramovich. Jose Mourinho produced the trophies, but not the flowing football the Chelsea owner craved. And the Special One's irresistible ability to attract controversy every time he opened his mouth was too much for the Russian's sensibilities.
Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari never got close. Hiddink, however, is the total package. He even managed a Mourinho-style sound bite for the media yesterday, describing himself as a "predator" in the title chase, with leaders Manchester United the prey.
The problem for Abramovich is that in seven weeks' time Hiddink will be on his way. The erudite Dutchman made it categorically clear there is no chance he will be staying on beyond the end of the season, at which point he will return to coach Russia full-time. "It is a moral issue," Hiddink said. "I am not a great moralist of the world, I am a realist, but I owe it to the Russia players."
Hiddink's statement was so categorical that it will add further evidence to the growing belief that Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti will be taking over at Chelsea in the summer. Hiddink insisted his sole focus is the 50 days he has left at Stamford Bridge in which to cement his place in Chelsea history.
"I am happy and satisfied and proud of what we've achieved so far but we want to take the ultimate steps," Hiddink said. "They are big players; they challenge each other in a good way as well. Nobody is allowed to fly outside the team interest, which is good."
The signs are promising. Chelsea's destruction of Liverpool was perhaps their finest hour since their 4-2 win over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in 2005. When they are in this kind of mood, few teams can cope with their combination of power and finesse, personified in the Anglo-African heart of the team. The quartet of Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, John Terry and Frank Lampard encapsulate the sweeping force of the Chelsea juggernaut.
This is what Abramovich has spent so much of his own money to witness. The £700m question, however, is why it has been four years since Chelsea played as well as this. Hiddink has made a massive impact in his few weeks in charge, but the Dutchman warned against complacency in the afterglow of his side's Anfield masterclass as they prepare to host Bolton today.
"There is always a trap when you're playing well. We must be careful," Hiddink said. "There's always a tendency, and it's human as well, that you can fade away with your performances so that's why we have to be very sharp on ourselves, and on myself as well. We can't afford to stumble. The key is concentration.
"Bolton will hope to capitalise on our game at Liverpool. Hopefully, we won't need an alarm bell ringing before we start playing as we can."
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