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Chelsea hope for Hiddink healing

Chelsea fans could be forgiven for thinking their club has, in appointing Guus Hiddink to succeed Luiz Felipe Scolari, replaced one manager with an impressive international record for another.

sports Updated: Feb 12, 2009 09:26 IST

Chelsea fans could be forgiven for thinking their club has, in appointing Guus Hiddink to succeed Luiz Felipe Scolari, replaced one manager with an impressive international record for another.

But few coaches can match Russia manager Hiddink's record of success at both club and international level.

Although the Dutchman has, as Scolari did before arriving in England, no experience of coaching in the Premier League he does, unlike the Brazilian, have years of experience in European club football to call upon.

Indeed, in his first full year with PSV Eindhoven he won the European Cup - a trophy still within Chelsea's sights for all that they've slipped to fourth in the Premier League table, seven points behind leaders Manchester United.

As well as his triumphs with PSV, the 62-year-old Hiddink also helped forge the best Netherlands side since the 'total football' era of Johan Cruyff in the 1970s and took his country to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.

Then, four years later, now working with a group of unheralded as opposed to talented yet temperamental players, he stunned the football world by guiding co-hosts South Korea into the World Cup semi-finals.

So impressed were the South Koreans they re-named their national stadium in Hiddink's honour.

A second spell with PSV yielded more trophies but when Australia came calling the lure of international football proved hard to resist and he promptly guided the Socceroos to their first World Cup in 32 years.

Only a 1-0 loss to eventual champions Italy on a disputed penalty in the second phase ended Australia's run at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

Hiddink showed the English game what it was missing by qualifying Russia, who went on to reach the semi-finals, for Euro 2008 at England's expense.

His detractors point to brief spells at Real Madrid and Fenerbahce as evidence Hiddink cannot handle being in charge of a 'big' club.

But Chelsea are not yet a 'big' club and the fact Hiddink knows owner Roman Abramovich well from his time with Russia could give the new boss some breathing space.

However, if his caretaker spell in charge is converted into a permanent move at the end of the season, even Hiddink could fall foul of Chelsea's demanding and impatient billionaire backer.