Guus Hiddink Handles Chelsea

Bookmakers in England have moved quickly to install current Russian national team coach Guus Hiddink as the favourite to take over from Luiz Felipe Scolari, today sacked as Chelsea manager, at Stamford Bridge. Bookmakers Ladbrokes are quoting the Dutchman at odd of 5/2 to be the next Chelsea gaffer. However, the coach himself 'dead-batted' suggestions by reporters that he was in line to take over from the Brazilian in west London, as he works with his Russian squad at a warm weather training camp in Turkey. "I have no news for you," the Dutchman told Reuters earlier. "I'm not concerned with what has been said about me elsewhere, I'm working here now."

Guus Hiddink was announced as Chelsea's interim manager this week, and yesterday he attended his first training session since arriving at his new club. The Dutchman took plenty of positives from his orientation day at Cobham, but he also identified the need to unify the 'team' he has inherited from Luiz Felipe Scolari. "They are very committed, I have seen them training but sometimes you can have a little bit of a different approach to get even more efficiency out of the players," Hiddink told Chelsea TV last night. "That's what I'm aiming for and if you can add those individuals together and make a team, then everyone can bring a little bit more. "I don't like to give anyone much time, not me and not the players. It is too easy to talk commitment because everyone has an obligation to be committed, but in the tactical and the strategic approach during the game we might gain some profit."

Guus Hiddink was this week announced as Luiz Felipe Scolari's successor in the Chelsea hot-seat. With the Blues lying fourth in the Premier League standings, the Dutchman faces the unenviable task of resurrecting a richly talented but under-performing team's season. How will his successes and failures over the years influence his reign at Stamford Bridge?

As mentioned earlier, the league title is all but off the cards for the London giants. Thus, Hiddink will have to gear his squad for European success. In his favour is his relative success with national teams in knock-out tournaments. No, he's never actually won the World Cup or the European Championship, but he's taken some middling teams a heck of a long way.

However, Chelsea aren't exactly an Australia or a South Korea. The quarter-finals or the semis mean nothing to a club who have come to expect trophies season after season. They are yet to win the Champions League, and it is the one crown Abramovich wants more than any other.

Hiddink's done it before, of course, albeit not in the modern format. But that was as a young up-and-comer building his reputation. As an experienced, well-travelled trainer who's been focused on 'project teams' over the past few years, it is hard to say how he will handle this sudden return to the elite level of club football.


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