Guus Hiddink’s compatriot and Southampton counterpart Ronald Koeman has credited the ex-Netherlands boss for Chelsea’s recent up-turn in form.
The two sides meet this weekend and instead of playing mind-games, Koeman has gone out of his way to praise Hiddink.
The praise for the Blues’ boss is not unfounded; Hiddink took over from Mourinho for his second spell at the London club and since his appointment, the Blues have lost just once in 14 outings - a 2-1 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in the knock-out stages of the Champions League. The Parisians themselves have only lost once all season during a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.
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The friendly nature between the two Dutchmen may come down to the fact that Koeman played under Hiddink at PSV in the late 1980s, as well as deputising under the 69-year-old with the Netherlands national team a decade later.
Hiddink’s ex-assistant believes that he was the perfect choice to steady the ship at Stamford Bridge following the London club’s awful start to the season.
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“They signed Guus Hiddink, he has a good relationship with the players and I think he’s the right person for the right moment in the season,” Koeman said.
“The team is looking more comfortable. They’re coming back and I was expecting that. Maybe the way the manager is dealing with the team is the best for this moment.
“He’s a coach with a lot of experience at all levels and he gives players important support. He’s always defending his players and that was good for Chelsea at that moment.”
Koeman was also linked to the then vacant Chelsea job back in December after taking the Saints to a European spot last season.
More recently, a run of five wins and a draw from six matches has seen Southampton climb to sixth and prompted questions over Koeman’s long-term future at the club, should he successfully guide his side into Europe for a second consecutive year.
One more year remains on Koeman’s current contract following this season and when asked whether the board approached him about renewing it, Koeman replied:
“No. I’m still in my second season, it’s too early to make conclusions or to talk about the future.
“Let me first finish this season and try and continue what we are doing until now. I don’t like to talk about my future because it’s not the most important thing at the moment."
“It’s my second year of my three-year contract. I am a happy man at the moment, we are doing well and I know what can happen in football.”