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Chelsea challenge excites Hiddink

Published: Wednesday 25 February 2009, 9.58CET
New Chelsea FC manager Guus Hiddink admits he has had to work quickly but is offering no excuses as his team welcome Juventus to Stamford Bridge for what will be only the Dutchman's second game at the helm.
by Trevor Haylett
from London
Chelsea challenge excites Hiddink
New Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink talks to his assistant Ray Wilkins during training ©Getty Images

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Published: Wednesday 25 February 2009, 9.58CET

Chelsea challenge excites Hiddink

New Chelsea FC manager Guus Hiddink admits he has had to work quickly but is offering no excuses as his team welcome Juventus to Stamford Bridge for what will be only the Dutchman's second game at the helm.

For the second successive year Chelsea FC have changed manager during a UEFA Champions League campaign and Guus Hiddink, who has replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari until the end of term, admits he has had precious little opportunity to work with a team who will try to reach a fifth quarter-final in six seasons by overcoming Juventus.

Great start
First impressions for the new man have been entirely favourable, with Hiddink guiding Chelsea to a vital Premier League victory at Aston Villa FC last weekend in his first game in charge. Next up is the challenge of the Italian giants with former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri in the opposing dugout. "It's a challenge because when you are into spring and in the Champions League you are among the élite clubs of Europe," said Hiddink. "It's very exciting for all of us. It's special because it's my first home game and we had a good first match. Being at home everyone can expect a lot from this team by way of energy and passion."

No excuses
Appointed only two weeks ago, the Dutchman said it would be easy to offer excuses because of the limited time he has had with the players, but insists that everyone concerned must fight the temptation. "Every manager wants to have four, five, six weeks to implement things with the team but I have to do it in reduced time," Hiddink explained. "We just have to get on with it. We must not give ourselves an excuse because then there might be a tendency to believe we can do a little less. You need to give 100 per cent in the Premier League and the Champions League, and it is not in my mind or in the players' minds to give any less."

Cole in and out
Hiddink described Ranieri as a "gentleman coach" and praised the Italian's organisational skills, adding: "A team of stars can expose themselves but he can organise his team in a very disciplined way. That makes his teams difficult to play against." The game will probably come too early for Ricardo Carvalho, who has a hamstring injury, while Joe Cole is a long-term absentee due to a knee problem although Ashley Cole should return at left-back after a domestic suspension.

Positive response
Ranieri, back at Stamford Bridge where he spent four years at the helm from 2000 to 2004, believes his former employers will respond positively to Hiddink's arrival. "They will be determined to carry out his wishes," he said. "When I saw them against Aston Villa they played in a more direct style but we are prepared for this. Chelsea are a strong team and we respect them but we will have a say in the game as well."

Welcome returns
Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri look likely to fill the striking places for Juventus after they were named on the substitutes' bench for the 2-0 victory at US Città di Palermo on Saturday. Olof Mellberg also seems certain to return at right-back as Ranieri, whose side have lost their last six away matches in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, seeks to add solidity to his defence.

Last updated: 25/02/09 21.30CET

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