Guus Hiddink has reiterated his commitment to leading Russia to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and insisted he will not be staying at Chelsea beyond the end of this season. He has revived hopes of silverware at Stamford Bridge this term with an impressive unbeaten start to his stint as temporary manager, a role he is combining with his commitments to Russia.
Petr Cech and Michael Ballack, two of the senior stars said to have grown disillusioned under Hiddink's predecessor Luiz Felipe Scolari, both said earlier this week that they would be delighted to see the Dutchman installed on a permanent basis.
But Hiddink insists he will not be swayed by them. "They might change their minds about me when I put them on the bench or not even in the squad," he quipped. Hiddink has succeeding in raising the performances of some of Chelsea's big-hitters, most notably Didier Drogba, and he admitted he was delighted with the response he has had from the dressing room.
"I have been very happy not just with the regular starters but with all the other players, who I've been watching and observing. Everyone is committed," he said. "But I made it very clear a few weeks ago - and again recently - what the future will be after May 30th. I don't have to do that again."
Hiddink's side take on Manchester City on Sunday with the stakes due to be set by the outcome of Liverpool's meeting with Manchester United 24 hours earlier. If Liverpool win, Chelsea will be able to move to within four points of leaders United, albeit having played a game more. Hiddink continues to insist the title is United's to lose and he does not anticipate too much change in the established order of English football in the next season or two, despite the new-found wealth of Sunday's visitors.
"It can happen, nothing is impossible in this country, especially when you have the finances," he said. "But there are also the clubs with history, who have played as champions and fought for championships. They have the advantage of their history and the experience of being on top of everyone, if not every year then for a lot of them. This experience is very valuable for the big clubs.
"It's not easy to come between those teams if they are well managed," he added. "If they continue as they have for the last few years it will be difficult to come in, but it's always good to have more competition for the title. It's not always a matter of money to make a team. You have to be very careful about positions and the balance of your squad. It is not simply because of money that you have success as a team."