The unique case of Guus Hiddink: Why Roman Abramovich's money can't buy him everything

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 09 March 2016, 12:40

Guus HiddinkChelsea have been a completely different side since Guus Hiddink returned for a second spell as interim manager. The Dutchman is highly unlikely to stay at Stamford Bridge past the season, much to the disappointment of owner Roman Abramovich, who for once will be forced to accept that he can't always get his own way. The Sun's Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) takes a look at this unique scenario.

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH will no doubt watch Chelsea's season reach crunch point tonight with a growing sense of frustration about the one who got away.

Since caretaker boss Guus Hiddink took over in the wake of Jose Mourinho's sacking it is not only results that have taken a dramatic upturn.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger once said in his typically professorial manner that 'every football team mirrors the personality of its manager'.

Quite what that says about him as Arsenal flounder through the second half of the season is another matter but Wenger does tend to know what he is talking about.

But back over at Chelsea they prepare for tonight's Champions League win-or-bust showdown with Paris St.Germain a team transformed in so many ways.

Just one defeat in 16 games since Dutchman Hiddink was appointed as chief firefighter to try to rescue the charred embers of the season.

But not only that, the players have genuine smiles on their faces.

Watching the squad being put through its paces at the club's lavish Surrey training ground yesterday there was a distinct sense of Spring in the air despite the freezing temperatures.

Hiddink has brought a little sunshine to a club which has existed under dark clouds for so long it became the norm.

Fighting the world and winning was Mourinho's mantra - until he lost of course.

The trickle down effect would mean that his players felt suffocated as individuals on the field of play.

The full backs were frightened to unleash their attacking skills on the opposition and world class players thought safety first to try to get out of a rut instead of taking the game to the other team.

How Abramovich will sit in his executive box in Stamford Bridge's East Stand and watch his team try to overturn a 2-1 deficit to go through to the last eight of the biggest club competition in football.

Of course they have to score so they have to come out fighting but it's no coincidence that Chelsea have seriously upped their scoring since Hiddink strolled through the door for the second time to pick up the pieces of a broken club.

In Mourinho's last 16 games in charge Chelsea scored 17 goals. In the 16 since Hiddink arrived they have scored 38.

The Dutchman has lost only twice so far in the two combined tenures as interim manager.

Yet he cannot be persuaded to stay and so Abramovich is closing in on a deal for Italy boss Antonio Conte - the hot favourite in the Next Chelsea Manager Market.

But for a billionaire Russian used to getting his own way it must be gnawing at him that Hiddink cannot be lured by the offer of money, prestige, titles and trophies to give the job a crack full time.

As a Chelsea insider told me: "Guus loves his days off, he loves travelling with his partner. He loves football but he also loves life."

At 69 years old he still rides a Harley Davidson motorbike. He gave up a trip to South East Asia to re-sign at Chelsea for a second period.

Mourinho is equally colourful and has a unique character and charisma.

But Hiddink brings happiness, telling journalists last week: "Every day is a good day when you can touch the grass."

How could that not make you smile and put in an extra shift if your boss said that to you on a Monday morning?

Mourinho used to have acorn fights around the training ground when things were going well.

Players would get taken out by a sniper shot with a small brown nut to the back of the head and turn around and spot their manager hiding in the bushes stifling a laugh.

But when the chips were down the laughter went and so did the morale.

Hiddink has brought a bit of himself to the dressing room and made everyone happier - except maybe Abramovich who is preparing to lose his best manager for the second time and there is nothing he can do about it.


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