Thu, Feb 12, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Chelsea announce Hiddink as manager for rest of season

GOING DUTCH Guus Hiddink said he was doing ‘a favor for a friend’ but AC Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti is considered the favorite to take over in the long term

AP AND AFP , LONDON

Chelsea have appointed Russia manager Guus Hiddink as their temporary coach until the end of the season, the Premier League club announced yesterday.

“Chelsea Football Club is delighted to confirm Guus Hiddink will become temporary coach until the end of the season,” a club statement said.

“He is due to meet the players later this week,” it said. “The club would like to take this opportunity to thank the Russian Football Union for their understanding and cooperation.”

Earlier yesterday Hiddink said he expected to take charge of Chelsea next week.

“I expect to be on the pitch next week,” Hiddink told Radio 538 in the Netherlands.

The Dutchman said he was ready to replace the fired Luiz Felipe Scolari on an interim basis while continuing to coach Russia. He said he is acting out of solidarity with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the financial backer of the Russian national team.

“It’s a favor for a friend. Abramovich does so much for Russian football that I wanted to give something back. He called me personally,” Hiddink said. “I can do it because we [Russia] are only playing two matches in April and one in June, but the English league is finished then.”

Hiddink didn’t rule out staying at Chelsea permanently.

“There are two scenarios,” he said. “Either they say: ‘Go back to the East’ or it all goes well, and then ... but that is not ideal.”

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is considered the favorite to take over on a permanent basis next summer.

“If the position will be open in July then I think he might consider it,” Milan director Umberto Gandini said.

Scolari was fired on Monday after seven months in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Russia have two World Cup qualifying games over the course of the rest of the English league season — at home to Azerbaijan on March 28 and away to Liechtenstein four days later.

Those dates should not conflict with Chelsea league games, and the qualifiers are games Russia should win comfortably as they chase Germany for the top spot in Group 4.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear is set to undergo a heart operation that could sideline him for two months, according to a report in Britain’s Sun tabloid yesterday.

Kinnear was admitted to hospital on Saturday after complaining of feeling unwell. Newcastle later released a statement saying initial tests had shown he was “okay” and that he would be detained for further observation.

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