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Dutchman Hiddink takes over as Chelsea manager
By ROB HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
Feb 11, 2009 - 10:03:23 AM

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LONDON – The Dutch coach of Russia's national team was chosen to manage Chelsea of the Premier League for the rest of the season.

Russia's Dutch soccer coach Guus Hiddink during a training session with the Russian national soccer team in the Mediterranean resort town of Belek, near the Turkish city of Antalya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009. Guus Hiddink is considering taking over as Chelsea's manager until the end of the Premier League season while keeping his job as coach of Russia's national team. The Dutch coach said Tuesday he might join Chelsea because of his relationship with Blues owner Roman Abramovich but would not turn his back on the Russians as they seek to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. (AP Photo/Kaan Soyturk)

Guus Hiddink, a 62-year-old Dutchman, replaces Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was fired Monday after six months as manager. The club said Hiddink will meet his new players later this week — before Saturday's FA Cup match at Watford.

Hiddink will remain coach of the Russian team, which currently is in Turkey.

"The club would like to take this opportunity to thank the Russian Football Union for their understanding and cooperation," Chelsea said in a statement.

Hiddink said his new role won't impact his work with the Russian team.

"We are in a great position and there will be no damage for the Russian national team," Hiddink said. "I will be focused now and in the future on the Russian national team."

It is likely Hiddink will only be a spectator Saturday, and then take over for the following weekend's Premier League match at Aston Villa. Assistant Ray Wilkins is coaching the team on an interim basis.

Before the announcement, Hiddink said he was ready to take the Chelsea job to help owner Roman Abramovich, who is the financial backer of the Russian national team.

"It's a favor for a friend. Abramovich does so much for Russian football that I wanted to give something back. He called me personally," Hiddink said. "I can do it because we (Russia) are only playing two matches in April and one in June, but the English league is finished then."

Hiddink hasn't ruled out staying at Chelsea permanently.

"There are two scenarios," he said. "Either they say: 'Go back to the East' or it all goes well, and then ... but that is not ideal."

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is considered the favorite to take over on a permanent basis next summer.

Scolari was fired following a string of poor results left Chelsea fourth in the standings — nine points behind leader Manchester United.

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