After a disastrous start to the season, Chelsea acquired the services of Guus Hiddink for the second time in order to sort out their campaign. Though there has been no official confirmation from the club, it seems that Hiddink will by replaced by Italy manager Antonio Conte after the European Championship is concluded.
Hiddink’s first stint at Chelsea came after the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009. Juggling his duties with the Blues with his job as Russia manager, he stay in London was a short one, as he departed at the end of the season. He enjoyed success during his short stay at Stamford Bridge, winning the FA Cup, whilst restoring Chelsea to a respectable position in the league. Meanwhile, Russia had failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Since his first spell in England, things have not gone well for Hiddink. He failed to qualify for Euro 2012 with Turkey, and after a brief stint at Anzhi Makhachkala, he took over the job for the Dutch National Team from Louis van Gaal in 2014. His time was nothing short of a disaster, as he was sacked following the Netherlands’ failure to qualify for Euro 2016.
On his return to England it took a while for him to restore Chelsea’s position in the league but it seems he has perhaps done the job for which he was called in. At the time of his arrival, the defending English champions were languishing in the bottom half; their worst start to the season since Abramovich’s takeover. Many players in the ranks of Chelsea had failed to deliver their best in the season after winning the League Cup and Premier League. Players such as Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard had all failed to live up to expectations.
But there has been a change in the club’s fortunes and at least two of those players are back to their best. Costa scored important goals against the likes of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain and Fabregas is performing at a much higher level than the start of the season. The duo had developed a lethal combination the previous season and it seems they are finally getting back on track.
The credit for all of this goes to Hiddink for making the most of the opportunities in a very limited time period. Chelsea may not have been at their best yet but they’re still in a better position, and if things work out the good way then they may even play in next season’s Europa League.
It looks all but certain that Hiddink wont be seen at the Stamford Bridge next season but although he has insisted that he will leave at the end of the season, the board should make an attempt to make him stay. After all, he’s come to their rescue not once but twice and has proved himself to be a worthy asset. Letting him go would probably be a big mistake as it’s not certain that whoever will succeed him will bring back the glory days to West London.
Hiddink knows the club and is already building a short-term project. Perhaps letting him turn it into a long-term project would be a better idea than bringing in someone who wouldn’t be guaranteed to succeed.