Goodbye, and Thank You, Sir Hiddink
The Chapter Ends; The Page shall turn.
Hiddink Leaves; And Chelsea Mourns.
The reign of power has ended in a high. An FA Cup victory over the determined Evertonians...a perfect goodbye present to the captain who steered the Chelsea vessel through the storms of the English League and into the clear skies.
The exit of Scolari left Chelsea coachless yet again and had already surrendered the league title to Manchester United and runners up Liverpool and were struggling to hold down their own against a surprisingly mighty Aston Villa.
Guus Hiddink, a close friend of Roman, and the coach of the Russian Football team was asked to be the caretaker of the Chelsea team until the end of the season. It was a daunting job.
The Chelsea team at that time were at sixes and sevens, low on confidence and seemed often clueless in defending set pieces. His mission was simple: help Chelsea qualify for the Champions League next year.
Hiddink started his reign with a victory over Aston Villa in Villa Park, something that had not happened in over a decade. Many people could recognize the return of the old Chelsea.
The defence was back and working. The determination was there to be seen. The offense was chipping away useful goals.
Malouda was looking more like the Malouda of Lyon. Drogba was playing well again. The whole team was playing well.
Suddenly, Chelsea were one of the favourites to win the Champions League. Hiddink had managed to outclass Juventus and outplay Rafael Benitez and his Liverpool team.
The only thing that stood in Chelsea's road to Rome was Barcelona. They were another favourites to win the Champions League.
The clash between the two can best be described as a battle between the sword and the shield. At the end of the day Chelsea had managed to keep a clean sheet in Barcelona, a feat that only three teams had done that season.
The next round saw a more attacking Chelsea. Chelsea were leading Barcelona 1-0 and were favourites to win until Iniesta's godly strike scored the equalizer and Barcelona went ahead thanks to the away goal rule.
If not for the miracle strike, the finals would have seen the clash between two of the greatest tacticians in the world of football: the Golden Hiddink vs. Sir Ferguson.
The defeat was soon put behind their back as Chelsea demolished a depleted Arsenal side and went on to fight the Premier League til the end, securing third place.
Hiddink's 13 league games reign saw 34 points, that was more points than Manchester United and Liverpool for the same 13 games.
The last piece of silverware that Chelsea could hope for was the FA Cup.
Chelsea had cruised past Arsenal while Everton had defeated Manchester Untied. Chelsea were expected to win a bitterly fought contest and win they did.
Everton had laid a blow in the first minute. However, Chelsea had enough time and strength in their hands to launch a controlled 2-1 victory over the Toffees.
The cup was won and Gus Hiddink added the oldest cup in soccer history to his collection of victories.
Thus ended the reign of Guus Hiddink. Not only did he leave behind his imprint on the Chelsea team in such a short span of time but he also left behind a footprint too large for any coming manager to fill.
While Hiddink will be replaced by another manager, make no mistake that Guus Hiddink can never truly be replaced in the hearts of Chelsea faithful.
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