BELGRADE (Reuters) – Dutch coach Guus Hiddink is set to take over at Premier League champions Chelsea after they sacked Jose Mourinho on Thursday, the club’s former striker Mateja Kezman said.
“I don’t know if it has been officially confirmed yet, but Hiddink just told me he was the new coach,” Kezman, who played for Chelsea in the 2004-2005 season, was quoted as saying by Croatia’s www.index.hr website.
“Hiddink is a great expert and an even better psychologist, hence I am confident he will get Chelsea back to winning ways in the Premier League and go all the way in the Champions League.
“I am not surprised with (Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich’s decision to sack Mourinho.
“Jose is an outstanding coach but the club’s results and position in the Premier League standings are well beneath a club of Chelsea’s stature.”
Chelsea are 16th in the Premier League and one point above the relegation zone after 16 games. They will face Paris St Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Hiddink won the 2009 FA Cup with Chelsea during a brief spell as interim manager after taking over from Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari.
He quickly won the hearts of the club’s fans who pleaded with Abramovich to sign him on a permanent deal during their final home league game that season, a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.
But the Russian billionaire opted for Italian Carlo Ancelotti while Hiddink went on to coach Turkey, Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala and most recently his native Netherlands.
His last job ended badly as he parted company with the Dutch national team after a poor start in Euro 2016 qualifying, with his assistant and replacement Danny Blind unable to turn around their fortunes as they failed to reach next year’s tournament in France.
The 69-year-old Hiddink faces a difficult task to get Chelsea’s Premier League campaign back on track after what Kezman described as a catalogue of errors by Mourinho.
“The biggest mistake Mourinho made was during the summer transfer window, as he failed to reinforce the squad thinking it was still good enough to win the title again,” said the former Serbia striker.
“Also, it is shocking that he made public his dressing-room clashes with the players and it seems he was ill-prepared to deal with the situation.
“Jose has won it all in club football and is used to capturing trophies with the best teams, but he lost the handle in this nightmare of a situation.
“He just didn’t know how to get the club out of the mess they are in.”
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Toby Davis)