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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Sep 11, 2007

No regrets for Hiddink over England job

Russia coach Guus Hiddink insists he has no regrets about watching tomorrow's Euro 2008 qualifier from the visitors' bench instead of leading out the England team at Wembley.

The Dutchman was a strong candidate to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson when it emerged before last year's World Cup finals that the Swede would soon be stepping down.

Hiddink confirmed a 'slight approach' had been made by the Football Association, who eventually elevated Eriksson's assistant Steve McClaren to the post.

But he insisted the Russians had been keener to recruit him and added he had no regrets ahead of tomorrow's clash, which sees England needing to win to climb above the visitors into a qualification spot.

He said: 'At that time there was a slight approach but I was already in contact with the Russian federation as well.

'It was very honourable at that time to hear that but I had given my word to the Russian federation. I don't regret it.

'And it is not for that fact that it is a special game tomorrow - it is always special to play in England. When you can play at Wembley it is always special.

'There was slight contact with my agent but at the same time there was a more firm contact from the Russian side.

'I hadn't signed a contract at that time but I gave them my word and I always stick to my word.'

But Hiddink, who has also managed South Korea and Australia in World Cup finals and was the Dutch boss when England beat Holland 4-1 in Euro 96, would not rule out the prospect of succeeding McClaren.

'When you are my age you must retire at the right moment,' he said. 'I cannot predict the future.

'My main love of the job is working with the lads, looking for good players and trying to impose a style of football which is attractive for them. So as long as that gives me energy then I can continue.'

England's poor start to the Group E campaign, which saw them lose in Croatia, the current leaders, and struggle in Israel, had put McClaren's job in jeopardy.

Saturday's comprehensive 3-0 win over the Israelis at the national stadium had relieved much of the pressure but defeat tomorrow night would put the heat back on McClaren once more.

Hiddink insisted however that McClaren was unlikely to be fired even if the Russians did pull off a victory that would move them four points ahead of England, who have still to go to Moscow.

He said: 'Of course we are coming here to get a result but what the consequences of that will be I don't know. That's not up to me.

'But I don't think there won't be any decision whatever the result might be on Wednesday. After that there are three games to go.'

Hiddink vowed to make changes from the side that beat Macedonia 3-0 on Saturday despite finishing the match with 10 players.

The Dutchman opted to use three forwards with attacking midfielders in support but will certainly be more cautious tomorrow.

One change will be in goal as Vladimir Gabulov is suspended following his red card at the weekend.

Vyacheslav Malafeev, who replaced him and saved a penalty with his first touch, will be hoping to start.