x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hiddink leaves on a high

It was no flippant comment when the Chelsea captain John Terry said he would not be watching the Champions League final.

Chelsea's manager Guus Hiddink talks to Didier Drogba during a training session at the team's ground at Cobham.
Chelsea's manager Guus Hiddink talks to Didier Drogba during a training session at the team's ground at Cobham.

It was no flippant comment when John Terry said he would not be watching the Champions League final. For the Chelsea captain being unable to play in such a prestigious match caused him much distress. It is a feeling shared by many of his teammates and reflects how their mentality has reverted back to what it once was.

No longer moody Blues, they want to be winners again: a mindset reinforced by the arrival of Guus Hiddink as coach four months ago, just when it seemed Roman Abramovich's expensively-assembled side might have lost their old drive and desire. An FA Cup triumph tomorrow - for what would be their first trophy since Jose Mourinho left two years ago - would be the perfect farewell for Hiddink as he focuses on his role as Russia's national coach for next year's World Cup challenge.

He will be missed as Terry said: "We had to regroup after [Luiz Felipe] Scolari went. We have done that and the manager has been fantastic. We have loved working under him and it will be a shame to see him go." Despite missing out on the Premier League title and losing a controversial Champions League semi-final to the eventual winners Barcelona, Hiddink will leave with his reputation enhanced by his short spell at Stamford Bridge.

"After the game against Barcelona I was not in the best state of mind, but then I had a conversation with Roman a day after and I was still angry," he said. "But he told me to be proud because I had made a good impression worldwide with how we played against Barcelona, especially in the second game. "Roman added that I should not be negative and be proud of what the team and I have achieved." The FA Cup may not have ranked highest among their goals at the start of the season, but it could provide a validation of Hiddink's efforts in transforming the Blues.

"We are in a profession where it is always good to get some silverware," he said. "I've enjoyed working with the players. They responded very well and they are still very eager to get a lot of prizes next season. "When I came here I did not expect that. I expected I would have to fight against big names to get them on the right track to perform, but there was no such fight needed. "They are not fed up even though they have won prizes in the previous years and that is good to leave behind."

akhan@thenational.ae