News24

Hiddink's Chelsea stay 'brief'

2009-02-20 11:48

London - Guus Hiddink insists he will not extend his spell as Chelsea's interim manager beyond the end of the season.

The Dutchman agreed to take charge at Stamford Bridge in the wake of Luiz Felipe Scolari's sacking as a personal favour to Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, and will juggle his duties in west London with those as Russia's national head coach until May.

Hiddink has not signed a contract with the English Premiership club and it had been suggested that the 62-year-old would consider staying with Chelsea on a permanent basis if his caretaker spell proves successful.

But Hiddink, speaking at his inaugural press conference at Stamford Bridge, has confirmed that he will leave Chelsea regardless of his achievements during his three-month stint in charge, citing his obligations to the Russian Football Federation, which is partly bankrolled by Abramovich.

"The situation is that Chelsea asked me to help until the end of the season," he said. "But I also have a full-hearted obligation and contract with the Russian Football Federation which I will fulfil as well.

"I only did this because of the strong relationship between the Chelsea owner and the Russian Federation. If another club had asked me to take over, I would have said no.

"I am very committed to Russia: I am head coach and I am also participating with an academy project with the Russian Federation as well.

"I will have time to do both. The international calendar is such that at the end of March, there are two games and then nothing until June. If the schedule had been different, it would have been difficult.

"So I will go back to Russia in March and then again from the end of May. I am certain I am only here until the end of the season."

Hiddink may only be ensconced at Stamford Bridge for the short term, but he is determined to make a success of his spell in England.

The former Holland manager admitted it would be "difficult" to catch league leaders Manchester United, who are currently 10 points clear at the top of the table, but with Chelsea still involved in both the Champions League and the FA Cup, he sees winning silverware as a realistic target.

"They are used to winning trophies at this club so let's try and repeat it," he said. "If they don't, of course, you can't be happy. I am certainly not just here to pass the time until the end of the season.

"It's a challenge, although the time is limited. We know the situation with Chelsea. We have three paths of competition open to us: in the league, we are 10 points down on Manchester United, so realistically that will be very difficult. But we must and will give it a try."

The first hurdle for Hiddink to clear is Saturday's trip to third-placed Aston Villa, a match which could prove decisive in the club's bid to cling on to their top four status.

"If you see the record of Villa recently, they have had a very good period, both home and away," he added. "It's tough, but we want to play and change spots with them as soon as possible."

AFP