Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Guus: This Is Favour for My Friend Abramovich; New Manager Says Close Ties with Russian Billionaire Were Key in Decision to Join Blues. by Simon Johnson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Guus: This Is Favour for My Friend Abramovich; New Manager Says Close Ties with Russian Billionaire Were Key in Decision to Join Blues. by Simon Johnson

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

GUUS HIDDINK revealed today he is joining Chelsea because he owes a debt of gratitude to Roman Abramovich.

After sacking Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday, the Russian billionaire telephoned his country's national coach to ask him to take up the managerial reins.

Hiddink was swiftly persuaded to take charge until the end of the season thanks to his friendship with the billionaire, who he says has helped transform Russian football with his riches.

Abramovich is a backer of the Russian Football Union and it was reported in Moscow last December the Chelsea owner had paid [pounds sterling]3.4million to cover Hiddink's salary after the Dutchman had not been paid for two months.

Hiddink, who will see out his contract with Russia until after the 2010 World Cup, said today: "This is a favour for a friend.

Abramovich does so much for Russian football that I wanted to give something back. He called me personally." The 62-year-old will not take over until after Saturday's FA Cup tie at Watford when Ray Wilkins will be in charge. However, Hiddink will be at Vicarage Road so he can cast his eye over a side whose season has been in danger of collapsing under Scolari in recent weeks.

The coach is no stranger to turning a troubled dressing room full of international players and inflated egos around and he has been backed to bring success back to Chelsea this season.

Former Blues striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink knows all about Hiddink's man-management techniques, having played under him during World Cup 98 for Holland.

He may have finished as one of the top scorers in the League for Leeds that season but he claimed only a bit-part role as Hiddink'side reached the semi-finals. While the Dutch failed to get past Brazil in the last four, it was still a remarkable feat considering the ill-disciplined rabble that Hiddink had struggled to motivate at Euro 96, where they f lattered by reaching the last eight. …

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