Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Guus Hiddink's Move to Chelsea Will Be Good for Tottenham and Arsenal

Guus Hiddink opened his account as Chelsea manager with a one-nil win over Aston Villa yesterday. The Pensioners looked like they had turned back the years and over-powered an honest Villa side who never really had a chance.

And with Hiddink now in charge, they actually look like a team who are guaranteed to finish in the top three and challenge for both the FA Cup and Champions League.

Chelsea have hardly turned a corner, it is probably too much to ask for them to win the league but they are both contenders for the Cup's. Hiddink still has some major problems to fix, the team lack width and look like they'll have to stay that way until the end of the season.

But they do have some exceptional players in Lampard, Carvalho, and on this seasons form Nicolas Anelka. Lampard has been brilliant for Chelsea all season and has carried the team when they looked down and out and he was probably one of two players who really profited from playing under Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The King is dead, long live the King, and with Scolari making way for Hiddink the season that looked like drifting away into nothingness now looks like it could produce a trophy.

Hiddink's stay as manager with Chelsea will be a short one; he has committed himself to managing Russia until the 2010 World Cup Finals and then he hopes to retire.

At 62 years of age, he has had an incredible coaching career that has taken him from Holland to South Korea to Spain to Russia with many places in between.

He hopes to finish his career on a high by taking Russia into the latter stages of the World Cup, after which the Russian football federation hope to entice him into becoming their Director of Football.

So it is looking less likely that the Dutchman will prolong his stay at Stamford Bridge past the summer.

The link between Hiddink and Russia is bridged by Roman Abramovich who pays his wages. The Oligarch has fostered a link with the Russian FA for the last number of years and they look to make Russia a European power both in terms of club and international football.

Russia have benefited greatly under Hiddink, he has turned them into a team full of flair, but they also have the required steel to make them a tough nut to crack for even the best of teams.

The two players that most fans of the English Premier League will be most knowledgeable of are Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Both were stars of the European Championships in 2008, and helped Russia qualify for the knockout stages where they won many fans for their playing style and flair.

Arshavin missed the first two group games through suspension and only made his debut in the last match of the group stages in a must win game against Sweden. He set up Pavlyuchenko before scoring himself, in an amazing man-of-the-match performance.

The two were on target again after Russia destroyed favorites Holland in the Quarter finals, the 3-1 win after extra time was the performance of the tournament and all of a sudden Russia became the fans favorite due to their flamboyant playing style.

Extra time took it's toll on Russia as they came up against Spain in the semifinals and they were dispatched 3-0 without really doing themselves justice.

One thing was sure after the finals, Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko became some of the hottest properties in European football and they looked destined to move on to bigger things.

Spurs were the first team to court Arshavin and after the player and the club demanded exorbitant fees they pulled out of the deal and then signed Pavlyuchnko on transfer deadline day.

The big Russian is a reminder of days of old, a big tough uncompromising centre forward who is not afraid to get stuck in but he also comes with a deft touch and is a real player, one of the few at Tottenham at the moment.

In January, Arsenal moved for Arshavin and after they bargained Zenit down to £15m from £25m and got Arshavin to step in on their wage structure he agreed to move.

Arshavin is a Robbie Keane-type player, but with more skill and less stamina. A creative link type player and if Arsenal can add some steel to their midfield in the summer he could prove to be a good signing.

The thing about both players is, is that it is the first time they have ever played in another country. And Eastern European players are notoriously hard to settle. The language and culture changes are massive and it will take these players up to two seasons to fit in.

The fact that both players now live in the melting pot that is London will be a boon as they will be able to help each others families through the difficult times that they will face.

But now the authority figure that is Hiddink has also moved to London too, and the two players now have a place to go to for advice and help.

Hiddink has travelled all over the world and speaks up to nine languages, and with Russian players in particular finding English a difficult skill to master his move to London will be invaluable to both players.

Pavlyuchenko is a very intelligent person, a Duma (Politician) in Russia he has shown his ability to think on a higher level on many local issues, but he has found living in London a real problem.

The language barrier is proving a challenge to him, and he has recently spoken of finding London a difficult place to live. All of this despite scoring 12 goals in 24 games for a team where he needs an interpreter to relay tactical instructions from the management.

Arshavin made his debut for Arsenal recently and you could see the language barrier difficulties were apparent in his one hour cameo. Given time he should find a way to slip into Arsenal's patterns but this will take him time.

With Hiddink moving to London the move can only be good for these players who if given time to settle will go on to become star names at their respective clubs.

If he can aid the two in his six months in London his effect on the English game will have resonance long after he has gone back to Moscow, and Spurs and Arsenal could profit from his stay more than Chelsea.

twitter / WillieGannon