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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Hiddink on brink of return to Bridge

Dutchman had talks with Chelsea yesterday and looks set to be unveiled as interim boss

File photo dated 30-05-2009 of Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink (right) and assistant Ray Wilkins (left) celebrate after the final whistle PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday December 18, 2015. Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins believes Guus Hiddink is the
File photo dated 30-05-2009 of Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink (right) and assistant Ray Wilkins (left) celebrate after the final whistle PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday December 18, 2015. Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins believes Guus Hiddink is the "absolutely perfect" choice to rescue the Blues' faltering season in the wake of Jose Mourinho's exit. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea Reaction. Photo credit should read Rebecca Naden/PA Wire.

Guus Hiddink has edged towards a second stint as interim manager at Chelsea after holding talks with Stamford Bridge bosses.

The 69-year-old Dutch manager arrived in London yesterday to meet with Chelsea chiefs over a short-term role to replace Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich arrived at the club’s Cobham base yesterday, observing training but also overseeing negotiations with former Holland manager Hiddink.

Hiddink told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf he would listen to Chelsea’s proposals before deciding whether to return to the club he coached to the FA Cup title in 2009.

“I want to get some good insight before I make my decision,” said Hiddink.

“I want as much information as possible.

“Chelsea are in a bad situation and there are reasons for that.

“Whether or not I’m visiting their next match depends on my first conversation.

“Then I’ll decide if I should stay in London longer.”

Mourinho left his Chelsea post on Thursday, just seven months on from guiding the Blues to the Premier League title but also after suffering nine defeats in 16 league matches this term.

Potential

Hiddink would appear to be Chelsea’s preferred caretaker appointment while the likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte are reported to be potential long-term successors to Mourinho.

Hiddink pledged to hear Chelsea’s offer in full before deciding whether to accept the challenge, suggesting first-team coach Steve Holland could take charge of today’s Premier League clash with Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.

Well-travelled Dutch veteran Hiddink is viewed as the perfect antidote to the dressing-room discontent that has coincided with Chelsea’s decline from defending champions into relegation battlers.

The former Australia boss seemed to have his Chelsea move prematurely rubber-stamped by his one-time employers, the Socceroos releasing a statement to their official website.

Chelsea insisted Mourinho’s Thursday afternoon exit was by “mutual consent”, only for technical director Michael Emenalo to then cite “palpable discord” between the manager and the players for the 52-year-old’s departure. Former England captain John Terry expressed his regret at Mourinho’s exit on social media on Friday morning, as the Premier League came to terms with the colourful Chelsea boss’ departure.

“Thank you doesn’t seem enough. Sad, sad day,” Terry posted on Instagram.

“Gonna miss you Boss. The very best I have EVER worked with, unbelievable memories together.”

Hiddink stepped into the Stamford Bridge breach after Luiz Felipe Scolari’s sacking in 2009, and should now reprise that role.

Football Federation Australia posted a statement on its website congratulating their ex-boss Hiddink on his new challenge.

The federation stated: “Guus Hiddink has taken temporary charge at struggling EPL giant Chelsea after the club announced they’d sacked coach Jose Mourinho overnight following the club’s disastrous run in the English Premier League.”

Chelsea’s former assistant manager Ray Wilkins branded Hiddink “absolutely perfect” to step in and arrest the Blues’ slump between now and the end of the season.

“As an interim manager, he would love the challenge, I’m sure,” Wilkins said.

“He would be the one person I would say would be absolutely perfect to come in to the end of the season and straighten them out.”

Chelsea released a glowing statement on Mourinho’s departure, only for technical director Emenalo to temper that sentiment.

“Whilst there is huge sentiment for the individual who has done so much for the club, the fact of the matter remains that Chelsea Football Club is in trouble,” Emenalo told Chelsea TV.

“There obviously seems to be palpable discord between manager and players, and we feel it was time to act.

“The owner is forced to make what was a very tough decision for the good of the club.

“Anyone who loves the club, who has any kind of affiliation to the club, can understand that this club is in trouble, and something needed to be done.”

Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas was forced to fend off rumours he had led dressing-room revolts against Mourinho earlier in the season.

Now Emenalo has further backed Chelsea’s players, insisting none of the Stamford Bridge squad had any part to play in Mourinho’s exit – which it has also emerged did not see him leave Cobham under a hood on Thursday night, as had been initially thought.

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