How Guus Hiddink will leave incoming Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti a fine legacy
Published 00:00 30/05/09 By By Martin Lipton
Guus Hiddink's Chelsea farewell today is guaranteed to end with a standing ovation from the fans who have taken the Dutchman to their hearts.
But Wembley will actually represent the passing of not one but two Stamford Bridge managerial reigns, and it is the end of the other that is more important.
What Hiddink did, inheriting the mess bequeathed by Luiz Felipe Scolari, was to go back to the blueprint and formula the "Special One" had originally put in place.
Yes, Hiddink has given a sense of discipline and certainty, asking the players to stand up and be counted, receiving the answers he wanted and revelling in the day-to-day involvement.
Hiddink, unlike Jose Mourinho, has opted to avoid controversy and confrontation, seeking calmness as the bedrock of his managerial style.
Yet in the substantive aspects, his side is, in effect, Mourinho's team - the spine of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, augmented by the power of Michael Essien - with a few minor changes.
If there was any doubting that, then look back at the angry, frustrated, out-of-control reaction to their heartbreaking Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Barcelona.
Surrounding the referee, jostling, screaming blue murder. All of that was vintage Mourinho, the win-at-all-costs attitude the Portuguese injected into the DNA of his squad.
Indeed, Hiddink's response, backing his players to a man even as the board prepared to levy its own punishment against Drogba and admitted the scenes had done nothing for the reputation of the club, was an only slightly subdued version of the one that would have been expected from Mourinho.
Roman Abramovich's rift with Mourinho became a gaping chasm, the animosity fuelled by the conflicting coteries who viewed themselves as an extension of the two men. While it was Avram Grant's side that Abramovich dismissed as without "personality", adding "I have a team that at the moment I don't recognise", he was discussing the Mourinho squad.
Yet Abramovich was so delighted to get Hiddink on board, even in a temporary capacity, that he has ignored the fact they have gone back to the Mourinho basics over the past four months.
There is an irony that Mourinho's last trophy for the Blues, the FA Cup Final win over Manchester United in 2007, which followed the Carling Cup triumph, was dismissed by the Stamford Bridge hierarchy as a "disappointing" return, whereas victory over Everton will be hailed as a success.
But the imminent appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, and the summer overhaul the Italian will be given the leeway to carry out, will see the Mourinho era finally consigned to Chelsea history.
Ancelotti's bitter feud with Mourinho, a man he appears to believe represents the antithesis of how a great manager should behave, means he will be out to trash the Portuguese's reputation.
The Italian will not go as far as Brian Clough did at the start of his shortlived 44 days at Leeds, telling Don Revie's squad all their medals were worthless because they had been won by "cheating". But he will push pretty close.
Ricardo Carvalho, Deco and Drogba will lead the men heading through the exit doors, while there are doubts over the futures of Jose Bosingwa, John Obi Mikel and even Michael Ballack, given Ancelotti's complaint there is no midfield creativity.
The Italian wants to bring Milan schemer Andrea Pirlo with him, fancies Emmanuel Adebayor to replace Drogba, will inherit incoming Russian Yury Zhirkov, has signalled his interest in Xabi Alonso and is seeking a flying winger, even if Franck Ribery is set for Real Madrid.
It means next season will see a new Chelsea. Two titles, two Carling Cups, maybe two FA Cups. Everything comes to an end and today is the end of Mourinho.
From tomorrow, it will be a different club. Whether it will be a more successful club is much more open to debate. Goodbye Guus. Thanks for the memories Jose. Ciao Carlo!
CHELSEA: A SEASON OF TWO HALVES..
17th August 2008: Scolari gets his Chelsea career off to a flyer with a 4-0 win over Portsmouth.
1st September 2008: Scolari unhappy to see Chelsea pipped by Manchester City to the £32.5m capture of Robinho.
12th November 2008: The Blues are held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley in the Carling Cup.
18th October 2008: Chelsea record their biggest away win in five years with a 5-0 victory at Middlesbrough.
3rd January 2009: Southend earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup.
7th February 2009: Fresh from their defeat Liverpool, Chelsea draw 0-0 with Hull, marking Scolari's last game in charge.
11th January 2009: Manchester United thump Chelsea 3-0 at Old Trafford.
21st February 2009: Guus Hiddink sees Chelsea earn a 1-0 win at Villa Park in his first game in charge.
7th March 2009: Chelsea see off Coventry 2-0 to reach the FA Cup Semi-Final.
21st March 2009: Luka Modric scores the winner for Spurs as Hiddink sufferes his only Premier League defeat.
10th May 2009: But the Blues bounce back with a 4-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
6th May 2009: Chelsea are knocked out of the Champions League by Andres Iniesta''s late goal for Barcelona.
17th May 2009: Hiddink treated to a standing ovation by Chelsea supporters in his last game in charge at Stamford Bridge; a 2-0 win over Blackburn.