London: Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink believes his replacement at the reigning English champions will find it difficult to rebuild a squad in the summer capable of challenging Europe’s best teams and conceded that the club is no longer operating on the same level as the continent’s elite. The interim manager said he was envious of Paris Saint-Germain’s squad after Tuesday’s Champions League game, citing the strength of their bench as a key factor in the 2-1 defeat. With a place in next season’s Champions League appearing unlikely, Chelsea may find players unwilling to move to Stamford Bridge.
“It’s not a small job. I don’t want to open up too much but everyone has to make good analysis about the strength of the squad, about the weakness of the squad, and accordingly they have to react in building up, or making the squad stronger for next season. That’s not a small job,” Hiddink was quoted as saying by the Guardian on Friday. “I don’t want to go into details. I am here in the interim period and the people who are not responsible for the every day, every week stuff and games, they have the longer vision of what is the need of this club, they are in charge to do that,” he said.
When asked about the gap between Chelsea and other European clubs, Hiddink said, “You see the potential of those clubs, it’s huge. To be honest, if you see PSG, they have a very strong, not just first 11, but can go on to 15, 16, 17 big players.” He is also confident that Manchester City’s players will not waver in their commitment to Manuel Pellegrini for the remainder of the season because “they are not stupid” and will be keen to pay the outgoing manager back for the success he has brought to the club.
Hiddink and Pellegrini meet in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday with both sets of players aware they will be working under new coaches next season. “I don’t think it has an effect on the players if the players continue to work with the manager as they have done. With Pellegrini in recent years and with the way he works — I can only make a judgment from distance — he is well respected by the squad,” the 69-year-old said.