In December, Chelsea were in complete disarray. The defending champions were languishing towards the bottom of the Premier League table, had already been knocked out of the Capital One Cup and were on the verge of elimination from the Champions League.
Ultimately, something had to happen – and it did. Guus Hiddink happened. As was the case midway through the 2008-09 season, the Dutchman stepped in as interim manager to help the Blues in their time of need and Chelsea have benefited considerably in the aftermath of his appointment. Chelsea have continued to climb up the Premier League table throughout the campaign and are currently unbeaten during Hiddink’s tenure. Chelsea now stand an outside chance of finishing in the top four this season whilst a top-six finish remains a genuine possibility.
Although they were recently eliminated from the FA Cup at the hands of Everton, Chelsea remain confident of snatching a Europa League spot and Hiddink’s influx of positivity and confidence has been a key reason for their sudden resurgence. At the time of writing, Chelsea are 5/1 in the Bet365 football betting markets to secure a top-six finish this season. On current form, it would be hard to argue against them continuing their assault on the Premier League, especially if the likes of Cesc Fabregas continue to shine.
If nothing else, Hiddink has helped Chelsea’s star players to regain confidence. At the beginning of the season, Costa was struggling to score goals and seemed lost under Jose Mourinho. But he has gone on to score 11 goals in 15 games under the Dutchman. In addition, Fabregas and Oscar have also flourished and are much more prominent in Chelsea’s attack.
Hiddink has given their flair players the opportunity to prove their worth and Chelsea are now playing with a lot more freedom than they did under Mourinho. They aren’t quite the complete package but Hiddink has certainly got Chelsea back towards their best. Despite this, it’s unlikely that Hiddink will stay at Chelsea past the end of the season. The Dutchman himself has admitted that he wouldn’t necessarily want the permanent position at Stamford Bridge and owner Roman Abramovich is probably going to look elsewhere.
According to reports, Antonio Conte is top of Roman’s hit-list and, while the Italy manager would be welcomed at Chelsea, the supporters do have a soft spot for Hiddink – especially after this second spell at the helm. Hiddink didn’t have to take this job but he did it because he admires Chelsea and the club will always have a special place in his heart.
Hiddink has done a fantastic job since taking over in December and the Dutchman will be more than satisfied with his campaign so far. If Chelsea can secure an unlikely top-six finish, many fans will want Abramovich to offer him a permanent contract. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though Hiddink will be at Stamford Bridge next season. However, if the potential deal for Conte falls through, Hiddink might be given another year to try and mount a Premier League title challenge.