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Cool Hiddink keeping his distance

13 Apr 2009 17:45:00

Cool Hiddink keeping his distance

Guus Hiddink hopes to inspire Chelsea to reach the Champions League semi-finals despite admitting he will never be friends with his players. Chelsea face Liverpool in their quarter-final, second leg at Stamford Bridge tomorrow with a 3-1 lead from the first game on Merseyside. Liverpool have to score at least three goals to have any hope of turning the tie in their favour but Hiddink insists Chelsea will not sacrifice their own attacking tendencies. Hiddink has lost just one game since taking over as interim coach following the dismissal of Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Dutchman continues to insist that he is leaving at the end of the season, a stance that has since been confirmed by chairman Bruce Buck, but there is no disputing that he has galvanised a squad that was on the slide under Scolari. Hiddink has managed to get the best of the players by refusing to establish close friendships with any of them and that appears to be key to his success. "We're not close," said Hiddink. "I have to take decisions against some players because they're not playing. "They might be out of shape, or for tactical reasons. I like to have a very direct, open relationship with my players. I don't want to have a relationship where I might play games with them. "I don't like that. I have an open relationship. Then I can challenge them with an open mind and an open face. But, on the other hand, a manager should not be having bonds and friendships. "That's maybe after we have done our job in this club. I like a very straightforward, direct approach because then you can challenge them in a way to be professional." Hiddink added: "We, and I emphasise this, challenge each other in this group in a very open and direct relationship. "There's one aim. The aim is to get to the next round. If players are under-performing just knowing that the manager is leaving at the end of the season, it's not the right professional attitude. "We're very sharp on that attitude. Even though I'm not here next year, they have to respond. If they don't, they're not equipped to be at a big club." Hiddink's squad has the perfect opportunity to demonstrate they are equipped to be at Chelsea when they face a Liverpool side that has nothing to lose. Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, and yet to beat an English club away from home in Europe, much will depend on whether their midfield talisman Steve Gerrard shakes off a groin problem to play. But even though the Reds have not scored three goals at Stamford Bridge in two decades, Hiddink's side inadvertently gave them inspiration on Saturday. Chelsea, 4-0 to the good with 20 minutes left against Bolton, allowed Wanderers to score three times in nine minutes in a seven-goal thriller. Benitez would have taken heart from Bolton's performance but it was also the perfect wake-up call for Hiddink and his squad. However, the Dutchman insists Chelsea have no intention of sitting back and defending their lead. "It cannot be a cautious game where you have a kind of balance in a game where nothing happens for an hour, then maybe a team takes some risks at the end," said Hiddink. "That's not in both team's souls. We have to go for the win at home. "Going 4-0 up against Bolton and then conceding as we did was like an alarm clock ringing for this upcoming game. "We should have controlled the last part of the game. We can concede one, at 4-1, but one alarm bell is enough. "We've prepared very seriously. A lot of people have said, if you win an away game in Europe like we did, then you won't have any concerns for the second game.


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