x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Blues need direction after Scolari's departure

I think Hiddink's task will be to try to get the club to the end of season having achieved some success.

Graeme Le Saux joins in with children at the Etihad Airways Chelsea Soccer School at the Zayed Sports City. The former Chelsea players thinks that is is time for the club to move on as there is a lot still to play for.
Graeme Le Saux joins in with children at the Etihad Airways Chelsea Soccer School at the Zayed Sports City. The former Chelsea players thinks that is is time for the club to move on as there is a lot still to play for.

These are interesting times for Chelsea, but perhaps not interesting in a positive sense. The fans at Chelsea have very high expectations, and so they should. There seems to be some frustration among them. I was surprised just how quickly Luiz Felipe Scolari left, but it wasn't going as everybody had hoped, including him I would have thought. Scolari's departure as manager has created a few difficulties for the club. Ultimately, the club has to find some long-term direction whether that is under Guus Hiddink, or someone else.

I think Hiddink's task will be to try to get the club to the end of season having achieved some success. The Champions League and FA Cup are obvious targets. Can they sustain a title bid? It is going to be hard. Manchester United have now got the momentum that they always get at some point of the season. They've got a fantastic record. That brings everybody in the squad together, a bit like when Chelsea were going on that long unbeaten run at home.

I spent some time with Scolari when he joined the club in pre-season training out in China and Kuala Lumpur, so I have first-hand experience of seeing him coaching the players. Pre-season was fantastic for Chelsea. The players played well and they all looked sharp. Deco and Jose Bosingwa were there, they all looked good. I think everybody was excited about Scolari taking over. He was a very personable guy, very friendly and welcoming. He didn't treat anyone with any suspicion.

There was always the potential for it to be a difficult first season, because he was an international manager for a long time. Everybody assumed he would have been more than equipped to deal with going into the Premier League, especially with a club like Chelsea. Away from home, they've been fantastic but have found it tougher at Stamford Bridge. If you look at most football clubs, they would be fairly happy with Chelsea's position. It just shows the pressure that is on managers at clubs that have such high expectations.

I think it was probably an amicable parting of the ways. Watching the team this season, you tended to get the feeling it was not quite gelling. At home, we were struggling to break teams down and lacked width. The system did not seem to be working as it had worked for Scolari in international football. And they have had bad luck with injuries. Michael Essien's absence has been a huge blow, while Joe Cole has also been out.

Chelsea must now move on as there is a lot to play for. Anytime a manager goes, you look at the reaction of the players and you see what sort of players they are. I know a lot of the squad. They are all good professionals and want to do well. As they say, a change is as good as a rest. I think that this should have a good impact on them. I would say to my teammates: "Let us not use the Scolari thing as an excuse, but let us show we are a strong unit".

It's a difficult situation for them, and not one that they want to be in, but I think there will be a positive reaction. Like Scolari, Hiddink has a great pedigree in football but more in club management. I think coaching Chelsea and Russia is manageable until the end of the season, but it is far from a long-term solution. The former England and Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux was speaking at the Etihad Airways Chelsea Soccer School in Abu Dhabi.