ROMAN ABRAMOVICH will pull out all the stops to make Pep Guardiola Chelsea’s new manager after telling players he had no choice but to sack Jose Mourinho.
Last night club representatives were finalising a deal to bring in 69-year-old Guus Hiddink until the end of the season, after Abramovich made a rare appearance at training yesterday to address the squad ahead of today’s game against Sunderland.
But with many fans critical of Chelsea for dismissing the Special One, Abramovich is already planning to appease them with a summer masterplan.
The first step was to unveil Hiddink, who won the FA Cup as interim manager in 2009 following the departure of departure of Luiz Felipe Scolari, as quickly as possible.
And the second is to do everything in his power to steal a march on Manchester City and Manchester United for Guardiola, who have already been strongly linked with an approach.
The Chelsea hierarchy were keen to smooth over the turmoil as quickly as possible following the decision to axe Mourinho after nine defeats in 16 Premier League games this season.
However, Hiddink was yesterday being cautious about finalising the deal after flying in for talks in London. A six-month contract would include huge incentive bonuses for finishing in the top four and winning the Champions League and FA Cup.
“I want to get some good insight before I make my decision,” said Hiddink during the afternoon. “I want as much information as possible. Chelsea are in a bad situation and there are reasons for that.
“Whether or not I’m visiting their next match depends on my first conversation. Then I’ll decide if I should stay in London longer.
“We are still talking, exchanging stuff… It is possible that we would still use this weekend to discuss.
“It could take hours or days before I say yes or no. The news is fresh. I first want to take a good look.”
As a result, assistant manager Steve Holland and coach Eddie Newton will take the team this afternoon as Chelsea look to improve on their 16th place with Hiddink set to oversee the hectic festive schedule when the Blues play Watford, United and Crystal Palace in the space of eight days.
Unsuccessful spells as national team boss of Turkey and Holland have tarnished the 69-year-old’s reputation since leaving Stamford Bridge but he will clearly have a chance to stake a claim for a more permanent reign this time around.
However, the much-reported availability of Bayern Munich’s Guardiola – the only manager with a record to hold up against Mourinho’s – in the summer has whetted the appetite of Abramovich.