LONDON - Guus Hiddink signed off from his brief stint as Chelsea manager with the joy of leading the team to glory in Saturday's FA Cup final but with a twinge of regret that he had missed out on the Champions League. Hiddink, who returns to his regular job as coach of the Russian national side on Monday, was asked by reporters if the 2-1 win over Everton had been the perfect send-off. "It would have been a bit more perfect it we had been somewhere a few days ago," he replied. "That is the only regret I have, not playing Manchester United. I would have loved to play them." Chelsea were beaten in the Champions League semi-finals by Barcelona who went on to defeat United in the final. NEWS: Lampard larrup gives Guus farewell gift NEWS: Hiddink: Stability is the new progress It was almost two hours after fulltime when the Dutchman emerged for his media conference, having spent time dancing and celebrating with the Chelsea players and staff. "It was emotional in the dressing room, everyone was in there," he said, adding that even owner Roman Abramovich had joined in the fun. "Then I gathered the players and the technical staff in a next door room and they had a five-minute speech from me when I thanked them in a very emotional way for how we have worked together." Hiddink took over from Luiz Felipe Scolari in February with Chelsea struggling for confidence and the fans showing signs of frustration. He wasted little time in establishing a new regime at the club, with a stricter approach to training, fitness timekeeping and even dress. He may have annoyed a few outsiders with his refusal to condemn Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack for their histrionics during the Champions League defeat by Barcelona but his loyalty was much appreciated by the players. "The players responded very well to our demands from the first week so I would like to thank them for that," he said. "We had a setback in several games, but team has always reacted." Chelsea went behind for the fourth time in a FA Cup tie this season through a goal from Louis Saha after 26 seconds before Hiddink had even taken his seat. "It was very difficult to react to that, in those hot conditions, to play the game of pace that we like to get an opponent fatigued," he said. "Reacting against Everton is also difficult, they have proved this year they are a very well-organised team. But tactically we attacked them on the left and then scored two class goals." Hiddink had special praise for Frank Lampard, whose left-footed shot after 72 minutes settled the game. "He knows when he has to deliver a turning point, he is there in big moments," he said. "Big players make the difference in finals and he showed it again at the right moment. That's the mark for a world-class player." CHELSEA FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Kerry Dixon, Guus Hiddink One on One Gianfranco Zola, Nicolas Anelka Boy's A Bit Special Michael Mancienne, Scott Sinclair Perfect XI Ruud Gullit, Marcel Desailly Celebrity fans Vidal Sassoon And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Ruud Gullit on Weekend Wonders and Chelsea on Talentspotter
30 May 2009
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