Chelsea can attract transfer targets without Champions League - Hiddink
LONDON -- Guus Hiddink believes Chelsea should be formulating their summer transfer plans now and insists a lack of Champions League football next season will not necessarily affect their ability to attract their top targets.
Pedro Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao were the only senior arrivals at Stamford Bridge during an underwhelming window last summer, with Jose Mourinho reportedly frustrated by Chelsea's inability to make significant additions to his Premier League title-winning squad.
Mourinho left Stamford Bridge for the second time in December after presiding over a disastrous run of results and what technical director Michael Emenalo described as "palpable discord" that had developed between the manager and his players, with Hiddink returning for a second interim spell.
A permanent successor for Mourinho has not been decided as Hiddink attempts to redeem a nightmare season with success in the Champions League or FA Cup.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, Italy coach Antonio Conte and outgoing Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini have all been widely reported to be the leading candidates for the post.
But Hiddink, whose team host Newcastle on Saturday, insists that those in charge at Stamford Bridge should be finalising the club's summer strategy now to avoid a repeat of last year's disappointment, irrespective of Champions League qualification.
"If you look at the other [Premier League] teams getting even more possibilities economically to make their squads strong [with the forthcoming TV deal], then you must form now -- and I'm sure they are doing it -- [plans] to be very competitive next year," Hiddink said.
"The club must also offer the ambition [to players] even when you don't play in the Champions League next year. It's difficult but if the club with its big status can offer ambition into the future, then the club will stay attractive."
Hiddink has led Chelsea to a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions since returning as manager, but six draws have seen the gap to fourth place in the Premier League grow from 12 to 17 points. He insists he is reserving judgement on his second spell in charge until the end of the season.
"It's not a success but it's not a failure," he added. "Success is when we go on and get to the finals of both cups. That would be a huge success and it's not easy. When I started here failure would have been if from December until now we had several defeats, which is not true. I hope we can go into Springtime and achieve what this club wants to achieve."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.