Go Guus! Abramovich returns to Hiddink to rescue Chelsea again
It is the second caretaker stint at Chelsea for Hiddink, who previously stepped into the role in February 2009 after Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked. Then, Chelsea were seven points off the top and in fourth place. Now, it’s a much taller order: Chelsea are just one point above the relegation zone in 16th place and 20 points off the top, 14 places off the Champions League spots.
In 2009, Chelsea went on to win the FA Cup and finish in third place in the league, losing only once under Hiddink and being knocked out of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona on away goals after drawing both legs. The task Hiddink faces is far more difficult this season, although he is quietly confident that he can turn things around.
The 69-year-old told the club’s official website: “I am excited to return to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world but is not where it should be at the moment. However, I am sure we can all turn this season around.”
Hiddink is unlikely to be a permanent appointment with owner Roman Abramovich already looking toward next season and a rebuilding job that will start with Chelsea almost certainly outside Europe. The club has been linked to Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone and Italy manager Antonio Conte, while Pep Guardiola is also an option since the Spaniard is expected to leave Bayern at the end of his three-year contract next summer.
Whether Hiddink can turn things around for Chelsea remains to be seen - he will not be in charge for the Saturday game, instead watching from the stands.
Since leaving Chelsea in 2009, he continued his coaching role with Russia but failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, leaving his post afterward. He also failed to help Turkey qualify for Euro 2012, while a third consecutive international failure came with Holland when he left his post as manager in June after it became increasingly likely Holland would not qualify for Euro 2016. (They did not.)
Chelsea can now be expected to reinforce the team in the January transfer window - the squad needs a quality center-back, a defensive central midfielder and striking cover for Diego Costa.
Chelsea will expect Hiddink to have a positive impact on the players and will be expected to change things around immediately - although he will not officially start in his position until the Boxing Day fixture at home to Watford next Saturday.
Hiddink’s first big test will come on Monday, December 28 as Chelsea travel to Manchester United.