Hiddink rules out extended Chelsea stay

LONDON - New Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink ruled out on Friday any possibility of extending his short-term contract with the English Premier League side beyond the end of the season.

Dutchman Hiddink, 62, who took over from Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari last week, is also in charge of the Russian national team who are attempting to qualify for next year's World Cup.

"I will help out until the end of the season, only to the end of the season," Hiddink told his first news conference at Stamford Bridge.

His first match in charge will be Saturday's away game against Aston Villa who are two points ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea in the league.

Hiddink said Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich had asked him to help out until the season finished.

"I have my full time commitment with the Russian federation which I will fulfill," he said. "I will go back in March and also at the end of May.

"I have just done it because as everyone knows there is a strong relation between the Russian owner and the Russian federation. I will help out until the end of the season."

DIFFICULT TASK

Russia play World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan on March 28, Liechenstein on April 4 followed by Finland on June 6.

Hiddink, whose pedigree as a club and international coach is unquestioned after taking PSV Eindhoven to the European Cup in 1988 and the Netherlands and South Korea to fourth place in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups respectively, faces a difficult task.

Chelsea trail league leaders Manchester United by 10 points and in his programme notes before Wednesday's 3-0 win over Fulham, United manager Alex Ferguson said the west London club had no chance of winning the league.

"The title race is now going to be between ourselves and Liverpool," Ferguson wrote.

Hiddink agreed Chelsea faced a tough challenge trying to overhaul the defending champions but added his side were still in the FA Cup and Champions League. Chelsea play Juventus in the first knockout round first leg at home next Wednesday.

"But we must and we will give it a try," he said. "Chelsea are in the race. I'm not just here to pass the time until the end of the season. That's not what's in my mind.

"The priority is Villa Park, first. The answer is the cliche answer. The next game is very important. Next week Juventus."

Hiddink also played down any speculation about divisions in the team which, according to British media reports, contributed to Scolari's sacking.

"I don't want to know too much about the past or the recent past. I observe and I notice how people behave," he said. "I'm here to go forward."

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