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Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 19:33 UK

Hiddink enhances reputation

Guus Hiddink
Hiddink has proven himself as a man of principle

By Mandeep Sanghera and David Ornstein

Whether or not Guus Hiddink ends his role as interim Chelsea manager by winning the FA Cup final against Everton on Saturday, he will return to Russia with love.

The Dutchman will lead the Blues side out for a final goodbye at Wembley before his spell with the club comes to an end and he returns to manage the Russian national team full-time.

There will be no change of heart from Hiddink, despite the pleas of the club's fans that rang down from the Stamford Bridge stands during his final home game in charge and the guard of honour he received from Chelsea's players after the match.

The prospect is tempting, as Hiddink himself admitted, but not enough for him to go against the grain of his principles.

Guus Hiddink receives a guard of honour from the Chelsea squad

Hiddink takes Stamford Bridge bow

"He gave his word to the Russian federation and players and he would never go back on it," said Russian journalist Gannady Fyodorov.

It is this moral fibre which makes Hiddink the respected coach and person that he is and where you can start to unravel the reasons behind his success at Chelsea and elsewhere.

The "universal citizen" Hiddink won the European Cup with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, took Holland (1998) and South Korea (2002) to the semi-finals of the World Cup, as well as guiding Russia to the last four of Euro 2008.

"He feels very strongly about his connection to Russia," continued Fyodorov.

"Most other coaches who take charge of national teams from countries that aren't their home just come as workers and do what they have to do to fulfil their contracts.

"Hiddink is different. Not only in Russia but wherever he goes, he identifies himself with the rest of the people, wants to learn the culture, the language and the history. That's why he has been so successful.

I understand that the first thing he did at Chelsea was talk individually to every player and a little bit longer with John Terry and Frank Lampard

Dutch journalist Jaap de Groot

"Players trust and respect him very much because he wants to be one of them. He's not just a foreign coach that says you have to do this, you have to do that, you're wrong here, I'll teach you the right way.

"That's why they've fallen in love with him. Many of the players have said they will never have another coach like Hiddink ever again.

"He's unique in his handling of the players. Not many managers could have calmed down the situation like he did at Chelsea."

Hiddink answered Chelsea's SOS when he took over as interim boss on 20 February following Luiz Felipe Scolari's brief tenure.

With reported factions and frictions inside Stamford Bridge, along with the more obvious poor form, Hiddink went in and revitalised the club.

Chelsea have lost only once in his 21 games in charge and were seconds away from reaching the Champions League final but were denied by Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta's strike - as well as some controversial refereeing decisions.

PSV Eindhoven: 6 League Championships - (1986-87, 87-88, 88-89, 02-03, 04-05, 05-06)
PSV Eindhoven: 3 National Cups - (1998, 89, 90, 05)
PSV Eindhoven: 1 European Cup - (1988)
Real Madrid: World Club Cup - (1998)
Holland: Quarter-finals (Euro 1996), semi-finals (World Cup 1998)
South Korea: Semi-finals (World Cup 20002)
Australia: Second-round (World Cup 2006)
Russia: Semi-finals (Euro 2008

Hiddink's hard work revived Chelsea, but he was no miracle worker. By the time he arrived at Chelsea the club were too far adrift in the title race and even an impressive haul of 34 points in his 13 games in charge was not good enough to snatch second place from Liverpool.

"I understand that the first thing he did at Chelsea was talk individually to every player and a little bit longer with John Terry and Frank Lampard," revealed Dutch journalist Jaap de Groot.

"He handed some of his responsibility to two key players. After that I believe Didier Drogba joined them but in the first week he had special dialogue with Terry and Lampard.

"They know the club better than the other players. He wanted to learn from them and in return he gave them some of his responsibility.

"He said to them 'you know the club 10 times better than I do so I need your help - guide me through this club'. In the meantime he remained the decision-maker.

"But, if you approach players in that way you create something, you give a real feeling you are taking them seriously. At PSV he did the same with Soren Lerby, Eric Gerets, Ronald Koeman and Frank Arnesen."

Former Dutch international Ronald de Boer believes Hiddink's success both at club and international level stems from the way he has quickly learnt from the mistakes he has made.

In 1996 he was a good coach but not a great coach...on his side there was a lack of preparation and no clarity in what was happening

Former Dutch international Ronald de Boer

"In 1996 he was a good coach but not a great coach," said De Boer, who was part of the Dutch squad which went out at the quarter-final stage at Euro 96 when Hiddink was in charge.

"There were problems in the camp, which were not his fault, but on his side there was a lack of preparation and no clarity in what was happening.

"At this time he was not so organised tactically. He didn't show us how we were going to play and tell us how our opponents were going to play. He would always say we are going to talk about this and that but in the end we didn't.

"He learned from Euro 96 and now, 13 years later, he is definitely one of the top coaches in the footballing world."

De Boer added: "Personally, he was always a great guy - a gentleman who always knew how to treat people.

"It is vital for a coach to get along with his players so that they have a good feeling with you. With Hiddink that's always the case.

"I'll always remember the calmness he brings over to the players - he is never nervous.

"Of course, he can be tough and will tell you when he's not happy. But the gentlemanly way in which he says things makes you think, 'yes, he's right' and that gives you a really good feeling that you want to do well for him."


Chelsea's players have clearly taken to their interim manager, but it is undeniable that Hiddink was also helped by the return of Michael Essen, a player denied to Scolari due to a cruciate ligament injury.

"We were very fortunate to have a player like Michael Essien coming back into the squad at that particular time," said Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins.

"Michael is a beast and since he came back we've looked far stronger, we've got bigger players to chose from and we can manipulate the squad a lot better. All those little things ensure things came together quite nicely."

Nevertheless, it was Hiddink's worldly know-how and experience that united the club and now he will be hoping to bid farewell with an FA Cup triumph.

"The players felt they were getting someone who really knew where they wanted to go and how they were going to get there in the best possible fashion," added Wilkins.

"Guus will be missed from both a coaching perspective and a humane perspective."

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see also
Hiddink tempted by English return
29 May 09 |  Chelsea
Pressure is on Chelsea - Baines
29 May 09 |  Everton
Hiddink considered Chelsea U-turn
17 May 09 |  Chelsea
Lampard eager to reward Hiddink
25 May 09 |  FA Cup
Hiddink braced for Blues farewell
15 May 09 |  Chelsea
Hiddink happy to bow out in final
18 Apr 09 |  FA Cup
Penalty decisions mystify Hiddink
06 May 09 |  Europe
Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona (agg 1-1)
06 May 09 |  Europe
Hiddink reveals Chelsea job offer
28 Mar 09 |  Chelsea
Hiddink sees no Chelsea discord
20 Feb 09 |  Chelsea
No hiding for Hiddink
20 Feb 09 |  Chelsea

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