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May 31, 2009

Hiddink urges Chelsea to find stability at the top

Departing Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has also told Chelsea it is time for some stability if they are to challenge for the Premier League title again.

The Blues, winners of the FA Cup with a 2-1 victory over Everton on Saturday, have gone through a catalogue of managers since Jose Mourinho was ousted. That has coincided with a trophy drought which was finally ended at Wembley Stadium.

Hiddink himself was drafted in back in February after Luiz Felipe Scolari lost his way.

Hiddink has told Chelsea they must now appoint a manager for the long-term if they are to enjoy continued success.

"The club have recognised there have been too many changes,'' he said. "Now they need some stability. That is key for this club.

"Everyone needs a short-term strategy but you must also have one that lasts a bit longer, which allows you to build the team up. Then you can keep up to the high demands this team must deliver.''

As Hiddink is acutely aware, a piece of silverware is required annually to keep the Chelsea faithful happy.

And the hugs and smiles that followed a private speech delivered by Hiddink to his players in an ante room inside the Chelsea dressing room long after they had returned from the field of battle emphasised the gratitude of both sides for a mission accomplished.

"You don't always need to say words,'' said Hiddink. "When players show you how they feel through touching, it proves they had the motivation for the job.

"They are very wise and sensible. They know what they are capable of. That is the foundation for the future.''

While the Chelsea history books may show Hiddink was around for the blink of an eye, the work he has done in improving players previously producing little and giving a renewed sense of purpose to others whose minds seemed to have drifted elsewhere should not be underestimated.

Florent Malouda belonged to the former category, Didier Drogba the latter. It must have provided Hiddink with an immense amount of satisfaction therefore to see the pair combine for Chelsea's equaliser after Louis Saha's record-breaking opener.

"Malouda is one of the players who has reacted since I came,'' said Hiddink of the £13.5m former Lyon star, who was surprisingly overlooked in favour of five-time FA Cup winner Ashley Cole for man-of-the-match.

"When I first came here I tried to work out what each player could bring and compare that to what they were bringing. He was one the players who could bring more. After a few weeks he was. That was brilliant to see.

"He took a lot of responsibility and got his reward by getting back into the France team.''

At 62, Hiddink is not making any predictions about his future beyond South Africa 2010.

"Once when I was working in Spain I said I might go and do a job that was sports-related but not with a team,'' he said. "I could not keep that promise, so I won't make another.

"I don't know what my future will be. As long as I feel energetic and I can deliver, I might go on. But you can never predict the future.''

Michael Ballack has urged the Chelsea board to give their new manager time to settle in after agreeing to stay at Stamford Bridge for another year.

"I have not signed it,'' said Ballack, "But everything is okay. I will be here for another year.''

Chelsea have now had five managers during owner Roman Abramovich's reign and AC Milan's Carlo Ancelotti looks like being the sixth.

"It is not done but it looks like he (Ancelotti) will be the coach next year,'' said Ballack. "I don't know him very well. But he has had great success with AC Milan.

"I think that's what we need at Chelsea, we need consistency. You always need time to adapt to a new manager.

"But in football you if you don't get a result, you are under pressure. The coach is the first person who is under pressure but when a new manager comes you should give him time.

"There is not much that we need to change to win the Premier League next season. We have a great team, which is the most important thing, but we have to change the manager again and we will need a bit of time to adapt.

"It is not always like under it was under Guus where somebody comes in and the team starts winning straight away - that is not normal.

"Every coach works with different methods and the players have to get to know him - hopefully we won't need too much time because if we do we will be a little bit behind.''

Ballack does not believe Ancelotti will be affected by the prospect of following Hiddink - who said an emotional farewell to the players after the Wembley final.

"He (Ancelotti) has great experience and I think he can deal with the situation,'' added Ballack.

Nicolas Anelka has called for Chelsea to appoint their new manager "for the long term'' - but would love to see Hiddink return to Stamford Bridge one day.

Anelka said: "It was a great way to say goodbye to Guus. He has had a major influence on the team and the cup was our way to say thank you to him. We will miss him, and we hope that maybe in time he will come back. Why not?

"But we know he will now not be with us next season. It could be (AC Milan coach Carlo) Ancelotti next, and he would be a good choice, but whoever comes in we will do our best for him and the club.

"We need someone who knows English football, who knows about the English spirit and this club. We have had several people in charge in a short time. But it is better for the players if the new man has more time, and that he is here for the long term.''

On Chelsea's recovery, Anelka said: "Maybe it was good that we conceded so early, it made us work harder and wake up.

"We needed to play as a team to come back after that, and we showed that we could do that.''

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