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Guus Hiddink warns Chelsea successor of long road back to European glory

Interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink admitted he was envious of Paris Saint-Germain’s squad after the 2-1 Champions League defeat on Tuesday. Photograph: Xavier Laine/Getty ImagesInterim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink admitted he was envious of Paris Saint-Germain’s squad after the 2-1 Champions League defeat on Tuesday. Photograph: Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Guus Hiddink believes his replacement at Chelsea will find it difficult to rebuild a squad in the summer capable of challenging Europe’s best teams and concedes the club are no longer operating on the same level as the continent’s elite.

The interim manager said he was envious of Paris Saint-Germain’s squad after Tuesday’s Champions League game, citing the strength of their bench as a key factor in the 2-1 defeat. With a place in next season’s Champions League appearing unlikely, Chelsea may find players dissuaded from moving to Stamford Bridge.

Hiddink would not comment on how many signings he thinks are required, saying it is for those behind the scenes to make such decisions, but suggested experience was required.

Although much has been made of Chelsea’s younger players not being given enough chances in José Mourinho’s latter days as manager, Hiddink said he would like to have them involved more but, in a long season, experience trumps youth.

“It’s not a small job,” he said of the new manager’s task. “I don’t want to open up too much but everyone has to make good analysis about the strength of the squad, about the weakness of the squad, and accordingly they have to react in building up, or making the squad stronger for next season. That’s not a small job.

“I don’t want to go into details. I am here in the interim period and the people who are not responsible for the every day, every week stuff and games, they have the longer vision of what is the need of this club, they are in charge to do that.”

As for the gap between Chelsea and other European clubs, Hiddink said: “You see the potential of those clubs, it’s huge. To be honest, if you see PSG, they have a very strong, not just first 11, but can go on to 15, 16, 17 big players.

“We had some youngsters on the bench against PSG. I am not scared to bring them in but in the long run of a lot of games, you need a bench which is also very experienced.”

He is also confident Manchester City’s players will not waver in their commitment to Manuel Pellegrini for the remainder of the season because “they are not stupid” and will be keen to pay the outgoing manager back for the success he has brought to the club.

Hiddink and Pellegrini meet in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday with both sets of players aware they will be working under new coaches next season. But Hiddink reckons standards will not plunge at either club, adding that Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad should not serve as a distraction to the City squad.

City could still win an historic quadruple, despite Pellegrini promising to field a weakened team at Stamford Bridge on account of Wednesday’s Champions League game at Dynamo Kyiv. However the commitment of some players, including Yaya Touré, who is expected to leave the club in the summer, has been questioned following anaemic performances since the announcement of Guardiola’s appointment.

“I don’t think it has an effect on the players if the players [continue to] work with the manager as they have done,” Hiddink said. “With Pellegrini in recent years and with the way he works – I can only make a judgment from distance – he is well respected by the squad.

“And if the respect is there then I don’t see any inconvenience. Everyone knows he is leaving the club and to go on with him I think he deserves that respect. The players are not stupid – they want to pay something back to him as well personally I think.“It is very clear what is happening now at Man City. Everyone is aware of the situation and the big players, with big hearts, they know exactly what to do in the club. And I think in [Pellegrini’s] case the players will have a lot of respect for him.” – theguardian –

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