Skip to main content
Just Imagine

On a Hiddink to nothing?

  • Story Highlights
  • Guus Hiddink has replaced Luis Felipe Scolari as Chelsea manager
  • Dutch coach has been successful at both club and international level
  • Hiddink will juggle reviving Chelsea with his role as Russia coach
  • Next Article in World Sport »
Neale Graham
For CNN
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Few positions in world football carry with them such expectation of immediate success as the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

Well-traveled Dutchman Guus Hiddink has taken the Chelsea manager's job until the end of the season.

Well-traveled Dutchman Guus Hiddink has taken the Chelsea manager's job until the end of the season.

Jose Mourinho's brilliance, allied to owner Roman Abramovich's largesse, secured Chelsea Premier League titles as well as cup success, just not the Champions League crown the club so craves.

The Portuguese one-off still casts a huge shadow over Stamford Bridge more than 18 months after his departure. Avram Grant and Luis Felipe Scolari have found Mourinho's act impossible to follow.

Hiddink, who will also continue his role as Russia coach, has taken the job until the end of the season as a favor to his comrade Abramovich. And what does he have to lose?

How do you think Hiddink will do at Chelsea? What would be considered a success for the Dutchman?

Chelsea's slump in form has left them long shots for the championship yet the Dutchman has already stated they are still in the title race.

"There's a 10-point difference but things can happen in the final stages of the championship," he said, suggesting going through the motions is not in his DNA.

But even if the Premier League is beyond them, they remain among the bookies' favorites to go far in the Champions League. It is easy to forget they were a John Terry spot-kick away from winning the whole thing barely nine months ago.

If Hiddink can get Chelsea doing what they used to do so well -- and the return of powerful midfielder Michael Essien from injury will help -- they still have the weapons to hurt any team in Europe.

And it's in Europe where Hiddink made his name, winning the European Cup in 1988 with an unfancied PSV side and almost reaching the final again in 2005 during his second spell with the Eindhoven outfit.

His resume includes stints in other high-pressure jobs such as Fenerbahce, Valencia and Real Madrid and, like Scolari, Hiddink has also shown himself to be an achiever on the international scene too.

Football Fanzone
Football fans, the chance to have YOUR say on CNN is here!

Semi-finalists with Holland at France 98, he took over South Korea in 2001 and led the co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup to the last four. No Asian country had ever gone as far in a World Cup before and he left the job a national hero.

While still in charge of PSV, he agreed to coach another underdog in the shape of Australia in 2005 and led them to the World Cup in Germany. There, the Socceroos performed superbly and had eventual winners Italy rattled for much of their second-round match before succumbing to a late, controversial penalty.

Hiddink took Russia to Euro 2008 -- at the expense of England -- where they showed flashes of brilliance throughout. There was no shame in losing in the semi-final to a scintillating Spain side that would go on to win the tournament.

The 62-year-old is now looking to reach a fourth World Cup with his fourth different nation. He made it clear to Abramovich from the outset he would not leave Russia, well set in their qualifying group, in the lurch.

A lack of recent experience of the club game might count against him -- don't forget when Scolari was appointed Chelsea manager he hadn't been involved in day-to-day football since 2001.

But whereas the Brazilian had never taken charge of a European club before and his English was far from fluent, Hiddink has a wealth of experience of the continental game and should have no difficulty getting his ideas across.

Ever-flexible, he has indicated he knows where to improve Chelsea, saying: "The players are very committed, but sometimes you can have a little bit of a different approach to get even more efficiency out of the players."

Getting the strike partnership of top scorer Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba to click would be a start.

Time and again Hiddink has shown himself to be a master motivator and while Chelsea are no underdogs, they do need to believe in themselves again after a season of shattered unbeaten records and morale-sapping results against teams big and small.

If it doesn't work out, 'the Goose' still has his Russian job and an extra couple of million dollars in his pocket. But if it does, he could well have a big decision to make in the summer.

Let us know what you think of Hiddink's appointment at Stamford Bridge in the Sound Off box below.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print