Tuesday 23 May 2017

Chelsea hell-bent on luring Hiddink back to Bridge

Jason Burt

Guus Hiddink has held talks with Roman Abramovich over taking up a role at Chelsea should he leave his job as Turkey's head coach.

Abramovich is taking a direct involvement in the recruitment of the club's next manager following the brutal sacking of Carlo Ancelotti little more than an hour after the end of the Premier League season.

Ancelotti returned to London on the team flight after being sacked in the away dressing-room at Everton by chief executive Ron Gourlay following Chelsea's 1-0 defeat. He then went for drinks with a number of senior players and staff, including John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, and will now go on holiday having stated that he wants to stay and work in England.

Chelsea are well aware that by sacking Ancelotti they are sending out a message to all potential managers that they have to win at least a trophy a season or lose their job.

However, this will not deter some candidates, although Chelsea are understood to have resisted an approach from Rafael Benitez's representatives while sources played down suggestions that Marco van Basten might take over.

The former Dutch striker has not worked as a coach for two years and, as with Frank Rijkaard, a previous Chelsea target, there are question marks over his suitability for such a high-pressure job.

The Russian billionaire's dream is to lure Hiddink back to manage Chelsea, possibly on a short-term basis, and groom a young coach to succeed him before the 64-year-old Dutchman takes over as technical director.

Abramovich is understood to have already spoken to Hiddink, on several occasions, and, after an initial resistance, it is believed Chelsea are quietly optimistic that he might be persuaded to return if he can be extracted from his contract with Turkey, who have a crucial Euro 2012 qualifier away to Belgium next week.

Hiddink and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho are the two stand-out names being considered by Abramovich although 'the Special One' appears highly unlikely to quit Real Madrid just yet. A third option is believed to be the pairing of Fulham manager Mark Hughes, with Gianfranco Zola in a coaching role.

All three scenarios would be popular among the Chelsea supporters and, for now, Abramovich is not seriously considering other candidates although Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham's Harry Redknapp have also been discussed.

Yesterday Hiddink's agent, Cees van Nieuwenhuizen, stressed that his client was "fully focused on his job with Turkey and nothing else at the moment".

He reiterated that Hiddink would not break his contract with Turkey but added, because of the intense interest in who will take over at Stamford Bridge: "I know that everyone is talking about him and Chelsea but that is because he and Roman are very close and every now and then they meet and talk."

Hiddink has been retained by Abramovich as an adviser and used his newspaper column in the Dutch newspaper 'De Telegraaf' over the weekend to explain how that role worked.

"It works well with Chelsea," he said. "Since I left two years ago, I have been advising the club on things concerning the squad. Sometimes I become a sounding board.

"It costs me very little time and I can combine it well with my position with Turkey."

Van Nieuwenhuizen warned that the earliest Hiddink could leave Turkey is November -- there is a break clause in his contract should they fail to qualify for Euro 2012 -- and added: "I think that Chelsea have to make their decision in the shorter term."

Abramovich certainly cannot wait until then but he will investigate every avenue before giving up on Hiddink. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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