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Hiddink sets high standard for Ancelotti

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Mihir Bose | 12:40 UK time, Thursday, 7 May 2009

Chelsea fans recovering from last night's Champions League disappointment would be advised to look to Carlo Ancelotti, not Guus Hiddink, as the man who will mastermind their campaign next season.

It's not exactly a surprise Hiddink will move on after the FA Cup final on 30 May.

That was what the club said would happen when he took over from Luiz Felipe Scolari back in February, and what Hiddink himself has always said.

He had come to help his friend Roman Abramovich get over a tricky situation, not least the possibility at that time that the Blues would fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

However, such has been his success since he took over, reaching the FA Cup final and nearly overcoming Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final not to mention closing the gap on Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League, that speculation has persisted he might yet stay on.

I am told this has never been on the cards. Even if they had beaten Barca and then Man Utd to win the prize Abramovich desires above all else, it would have made no difference to the long-term plan laid out in the wake of Scolari's departure.

Carlo Ancelotti

Chelsea had parted company with Scolari with some regret. Indeed, there remains affection at the club for the Brazilian, who still lives in London. The feeling was he might have got it right, reshaping an ageing squad, but would have required too much time to achieve his goal.

But people at Stamford Bridge are also in awe of the way Hiddink has managed the resources left him by Scolari, not only on the field but off it.

There is much for Chelsea to learn from the way Hiddink has got the best out of some well-established stars, players whom Scolari had so much difficulty motivating, let alone managing.

But there is also admiration for the classy way Hiddink has conducted himself, an area where Jose Mourinho - for all his successes on the field - sometimes caused the club a few problems.

Contrast Hiddink's measured reactions to the refereeing howlers which arguably cost his side a Champions League final place with Mourinho's outbursts, also following defeat at the hands of Barcelona, which led to Chelsea's much publicised problems with Uefa.

Yet Chelsea are focused on making Ancelotti their next boss.

The AC Milan boss was very much in their sights last season but talks with the Italian proved tricky. Whether they prove more successful this time remains to be seen.

What Chelsea will certainly hope is that the manager who eventually takes over stays long enough to give the club some real stability.

Apart from the turmoil and disruption a regular turnover of managers causes, there is the financial cost, too. Scolari's seven-month reign in charge cost the club £12m in compensation to the Brazilian and his support team.

Not good news for a club with a stated aim to break even.


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