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Hiddink holds key to Chelsea plans
Published : 23 May 2011 18:00:05
Guus Hiddink looks set to have the final say over whether he returns to Chelsea as manager this summer.
The Dutchman appears to be Roman Abramovich's number one target to succeed Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked barely an hour after Sunday's final game of the season.
Hiddink reprising the role he filled on a temporary basis to such great effect two years ago seemed unlikely until Monday, amid reports he was not keen on a return to frontline club management and staunch opposition from his current employers at the Turkish Football Federation. Senior national team communications manager Turker Tozar said: "At this stage, we will leave everything to Mr Hiddink and if he sees the need to speak about this issue, he will do this personally."
But agent Cees van Nieuwenhuizen on Monday refused to rule out a club management role being Hiddink's next job, while the TFF have adopted a far more relaxed response to the latest rumours linking the Turkey boss to Stamford Bridge. Tozar added: "We have a press conference on May 27. If he wishes comment on these rumours or leaks, he will do it."
Pressed on whether they would refuse any approach for Hiddink from Chelsea, Tozar said: "Last month, our vice-president was asked and he said we had long-term plans with Mr Hiddink. If there are new issues, Hiddink will talk about this."
Van Nieuwenhuizen warned the earliest Hiddink would currently be available would be October as he would not break his contract with the TFF. But pressed on whether his client had completely ruled out a club management role as his next move, he said: "I don't know that you can say that.
"He is focusing on his job and he likes what he is doing. He said also in his column on Saturday in De Telegraaf, the Dutch newspaper, that as long as he is in the race for the European Championship with Turkey, he would continue to focus on that. Once that is finished, he will start thinking about his future."
Hiddink is contracted to Turkey until the end of Euro 2012 but will leave his position immediately if they fail to qualify. They currently lie third in Group A and face a crucial match with second-placed Belgium on June 3. Defeat would leave them four points adrift of a play-off spot with four games remaining and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could be sacked.
If not, Chelsea could be faced with the dilemma of waiting for him to become available - and appointing an interim manager - or looking elsewhere. The Blues would also need to establish for certain whether the Dutchman would prefer to move into a sporting director role. If so, they would face competition from Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, with the former club having already approached Hiddink about taking a place on their board.
Van Nieuwenhuizen said: "Johan Cruyff has also already spoken to him a couple of times in the last couple of months, because Johan is right now restructuring at Ajax. He has been saying, 'Maybe we can do this together'.