Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hiddink in talks with Chelsea to replace Scolari

Guus Hiddink appears set to take over from Luiz Felipe Scolari as the manager of Chelsea until the end of the current season, after being granted permission by the Russian Football Union to talk to the club.

The Dutch coach revealed on Tuesday that he is in discussions with the Blues, but will not leave his job as coach of the Russian national side and does not expect to takeover at Stamford Bridge before the weekend.

Russian football chiefs have given their approval, with Russian FA general director Alexei Sorokin telling Reuters: ''We don't see it as a problem. The timetable of the national team allows Guus to combine the two jobs.''

Hiddink would replace Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager of the Chelsea side after he was sacked on Monday afternoon with Chelsea fourth in the Premier League table.

The 62-year-old Dutchman revealed the chance to manage Chelsea on an interim basis was too good to ignore. However, he is committed to leading Russia to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and will not leave that role, which means Chelsea will be searching for yet another manager in the summer.

Hiddink managed PSV Eindhoven and Australia on a similar basis during qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. And while travelling from Russia to London may be less demanding the workload of both European qualifying and the Premier League is far greater.

''I want to say officially that there has been absolutely no talk of me leaving the Russian national team,'' Hiddink told Sport Express. ''I will stay and continue working with a team I feel very comfortable and at ease with.''

When asked if he could combine both high-profile jobs, Hiddink replied: ''You correctly use the word 'if'. ''I can't rule out that option but it is at the stage of being examined. If everything is organised properly a move to London could happen. I'll be able to give you a final answer in a few days.''

But the Dutchman ruled out becoming Chelsea's new boss before the weekend. ''No, that's not likely to happen,'' he added. '' I don't think things will be decided that quickly.''

''I must say that this is an exceptional situation'', the Dutchman told Reuters in an exclusive interview. ''I have to admit it's a complicated situation involving the Russian national team and Chelsea.

''If it was any other club aside from Chelsea my answer would be a straight 'No'. But Chelsea is different because I have good relations with the (club) owner. So I would like to help them (Chelsea) in this situation if I could.''

Asked if this would involve working as a consultant for Chelsea's coaching staff, Hiddink said: ''No, this would be a full managerial role, a day-to-day job. But this would only be for the next two or three months until the end of the season.

''Of course when Russia would play (World Cup qualifiers) I would go there to coach them during that (international window) as there won't be any (league) games during that time.

''I have already done that (combining two jobs) a couple of years ago when I was coaching Australia and PSV (Eindhoven), so I'm familiar with the situation and what it takes.

''I will not leave my job with the Russian national team. It's out of the question. When I took the Russia job it was a long-term project and I don't like to leave it unfinished.''

Asked if he knew about Scolari's fate before the news was released on Monday, he said: ''Well, you have your contacts and I have mine.

''I did get a phone call from them (Chelsea management) and we discussed the situation but we haven't come to a final decision just yet. But the situation can change any day or even any hour.''

The Dutchman said before making any decisions he would discuss his future with Russian soccer chief Vitaly Mutko.

''I was planning to fly to Europe from Turkey at the end of the training camp (on Wednesday) but I can change that and I can go directly to Moscow to meet with Mutko,'' he said.

''In any case, we'll meet in the next few days and will talk about the whole thing.''

In a statement the RFU detailed their acceptance of Hiddink entering into an agreement with Chelsea: ''The RFU is prepared to agree to this proposal, especially considering that the combination of the two jobs does not go against the provisions of Hiddink's contract with the RFU,''

''The RFU is convinced that this cooperation will not impede the Russian national team's preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

''The RFU emphasises that Hiddink will continue to carry out his duties under the existing contract, which stipulates that he shall head the Russian national team until July 2010,'' it added.

''Details of (Hiddink's) combining the two jobs will be discussed during a coming meeting between the RFU and Chelsea managements.''

Russia's next match is against Azerbaijan on March 28, they then travel to Liechtenstein four days later in their only two matches before the end of the English league season.

Chelsea have trips to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United either side of the international break.

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