LONDON, May 18 – Guus Hiddink admits he will be haunted by a nagging sense of regret when he walks away from Chelsea after the FA Cup final.Just four months after replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari, Hiddink’s time at Stamford Bridge is coming to an end all too soon for the club’s players and fans.
He will resume his full-time role as Russia coach following the Wembley date with Everton on May 30 and was afforded an emotional send-off during and after his final home match in charge against Blackburn on Sunday.
Hiddink bowed in acknowledgement of the cheers from the Chelsea fans who chanted his name throughout the 2-0 victory.
Such is the loyalty Hiddink has inspired from the club’s supporters that a section of them even made it clear they would rather keep him than have AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is widely expected to succeed the Dutchman.
The former Australia and South Korea coach was also given a guard of honour by the players after the match.
All the plaudits emphasised the impact Hiddink has made at a club that was in turmoil when he arrived and he was emotional as he reflected on his brief taste of life in the Premier League.
"I have many second thoughts. Sometimes third thoughts. You cannot avoid them," he said. "You do not have a button to turn them off, but that is how it is.
"When I have to leave and I see the reaction of the players and how they have worked, I feel a kind of sadness. That is for sure, but that is the reality.
"Russia is a country that needs to be developed. I have given my commitment to them, with pleasure, and I have to fulfil that – but that does not mean that it is difficult to leave this atmosphere.
"It was nice appreciation from the crowd, and to be honest, I did not expect this when I am here for a relatively short period to do my job.
"We enjoyed the atmosphere, but the season is not over for me and the team. We would love to finish it off with the FA Cup."
But even narrowly failing to reach the Champions League final, finishing in the top four and possibly winning the FA Cup doesn’t convince Hiddink that Chelsea have a squad capable of competing with Manchester United.
He believes the new manager will need more strength in depth to overhaul the champions.
"When you want to compete, you have to renew your squad almost every year," he said. "To be realistic in the upcoming years we have players who are ageing.
"It is up to the new management. It’s my humble advice to bring in even more depth, but people in the club know that.
"For the FA Cup, League Cup, Premier League and Champions League, you need a squad of real depth in quality. You need to be able to use a lot of players, like Manchester United."
Hiddink, who has one more league game at Sunderland next weekend, could have few complaints about the way his team brushed aside Blackburn.
They took the lead in the fourth minute when Florent Malouda headed home Nicolas Anelka’s cross. Anelka doubled the lead in the 59th minute with a low strike from the edge of the penalty area.
While Chelsea prepare for the post-Hiddink era, Blackburn are just relieved to have the chance to play the Blues again next season.
When Sam Allardyce replaced Paul Ince, Rovers were second bottom, but the former Bolton boss made such a big impact that his team were safe before they even kicked off at the Bridge.
Now Allardyce plans a post-season clear-out to avoid a repeat of the struggle to avoid relegation.
"We’ll make a few changes with the playing staff, that’s inevitable, we must try and progress and get better," he said.
"The vast majority of the squad are good enough but there will be some natural wastage. We should at least be a mid-table side."