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Hiddink may double up with Chelsea

February 11, 2009 16:30 IST
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Russia coach Guus Hiddink said he was prepared to manage Chelsea for the rest of the season after receiving permission to combine the two jobs.

The Premier League club approached the Dutchman widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the world after sacking Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters at the Russian squad's training camp, Hiddink said he had a special relationship with Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich who had been paying his salary as Russia coach.

"This is an exceptional situation. If it was any other club aside from Chelsea my answer would be a straight 'no'," Hiddink said.

"Chelsea is different because I have good relations with the owner. I would like to help them in this situation if I could.

"This would be a full-time, day-to-day managerial job. But it would only be for the next two or three months, until the end of the season."

Hiddink said he was aware of the risks of managing a big club where several high-profile coaches have been axed in the last few years.

"There's an old saying in football that any coach was hired to be fired ... that's the risks you take," he said.

"I've 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."

Hiddink expressed sympathy for Scolari.

"I can't say we are very close friends but I know him well and we talk on the phone quite often," he said. "He is a very honest man, a good football coach."


The Russian football association gave Chelsea permission to speak to Hiddink, saying it would not object to him doing both jobs.

"We don't see it as a problem," general director Alexei Sorokin told Reuters. "The timetable of the national team allows Guus to combine the two."

Hiddink had been planning to fly to Moscow with the Russia players on Wednesday but he may now go back to the Netherlands before heading to London.

"Abramovich could send his private jet to fly Hiddink to London," said a source at the Russian FA.

Hiddink said before making any decisions he would discuss his future with Russian soccer chief Vitaly Mutko, adding that he was fully committed to helping the team qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

"I will not leave my job with the Russian national team. It's out of the question," said Hiddink.

"When I took the job it was a long-term project and I don't like to leave it unfinished. I'll have a meeting with Mr Mutko in the next few days to discuss the whole thing."

Chelsea thanked the Russian football association for giving them permission to talk to Hiddink.

"Chelsea Football Club can confirm it has officially approached the Russian Football Union (RFU) for permission to speak to Guus Hiddink to become the club's temporary coach until the end of the season while continuing to be in charge of the Russian national team," the club said in a statement.

"That permission has been granted and Chelsea would like to thank the RFU for their co-operation."

Hiddink is bidding to lead a fourth different team to the World Cup finals after coaching the Netherlands to the semi-finals in 1998, South Korea to the semi-finals in 2002 and Australia to the second round in 2006.

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