Ruud Gullit Interview: "Frightening" Chelsea Favourites for Champions League

Alex DimondUK Lead WriterMarch 26, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 25:  Medals are awarded to the U19 teams by Ruud Gullit and Su Ling, CEO of YR1M during the Laureus All Stars Unity Cup ahead of the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards at Royal Selangor Club on March 25, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA—Former Chelsea player and manager Ruud Gullit believes his old club should be considered favourites for both the Premier League and the Champions League this season, because they “frighten the hell” out of other teams.

Gullit, speaking at the Laureus Unity Cup on Tuesday, also revealed that he is hoping to return to management in the near future, following an almost three-year absence from the sidelines following an ill-fated spell at Russian club Terek Grozny in 2011.

Gullit, fresh from a coaching session with local youngsters and an exhibition match with fellow ex-professionals at the Royal Selangor Club, expressed his belief that Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are in pole position to win the domestic title this season.

“They are doing well,” Gullit told reporters. “They are frightening the hell out of all the other teams. I think that they are strong favourites. [Mourinho won’t admit it] but they are, because you play well, you play good football and you press the ball well. You are good defensively they have strong players.

“The only thing is they have left some points against the lower teams, for some reason, and especially in the last 15 minutes. So that’s odd.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18:  Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Chelsea and Galatasaray AS at Stamford Bridge on March 18, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Gullit believes Chelsea could be on course for an impressive league and Champions League double this season, stating his belief that the west London club are the only side capable of defeating the bookies' favourites in the tournament.

“I think Chelsea are favourites. They are the one team that can beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich,” he said.

“They can really tussle it up, they can really press them. And if you press players you make mistakes. Therefore I think that they can do it.”

The only other English side still in the Champions League are Manchester United, whose ambitions for the remainder of the season are less lofty. Gullit has sympathy for David Moyes, stating his belief that the club must stick with him until next season at least.

“Man Utd have nothing to lose [in the Champions League],” he noted. “It’s not fun to see Man Utd in this situation, because we want them to be ‘Man Utd’, you know?”

“But although they are having their difficulties just wait, allow Moyes to buy his players in the summer.”

He added: “Of course they need to give him a chance. You knew, everybody knew that nobody wanted to be the successor of [Sir Alex] Ferguson. But they now want to be the successor of Moyes. That’s the point.

“He’s the only one that can change that. Give him the opportunity.”

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 25:  Ruud Gullit and Ronald de Boer (R) in discussion during the Laureus All Stars Unity Cup ahead of the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards at Royal Selangor Club on March 25, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mike H
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Even if Moyes were to be dismissed at Old Trafford, Gullit would be unlikely to be considered as a candidate. After beginning his managerial career with Chelsea, and then going on to coach Newcastle United and Feyenoord, Gullit has focused on ambassadorial projects in recent times, but he is now keen to get back on the training ground at the next attractive opportunity.

“Yeah, I think I will be coming back,” he said. “I enjoy what I’m doing, presenting the Ballon d’Or, doing the European Cup draw, travelling around. But I enjoy that.

“I don’t know [when I will return]. But at the moment I am doing what I am doing, and I enjoy that.”

Gullit had one note of criticism for the organisers of the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil, amid reports that host city Porto Alegre is ready to withdraw from its responsibilities, per the Press Asscociation (h/t The Guardian).

“Where are they going to play now, you don’t know,” the Dutchman noted. “It’s a big factor. It’s not bad—it’s not like we can’t play the World Cup anymore—but it also says something about the organisation that they couldn’t produce at that moment.”