Guus Hiddink is set to take over as Chelsea manager until the end of the season.
The 69-year-old Dutchman will return to Stamford Bridge for a second spell as interim manager, after Jose Mourinho was sacked on Thursday.
The Portuguese was dismissed just seven months after guiding the Blues to the Premier League title – but such had been their fall from grace in the intervening period that his dismissal wasn’t a shock.
Sitting 16th in the table, the champions have won just four times in their opening 16 matches this term, earning just 15 points.
Mourinho’s final match in charge – the 2-1 defeat to shock league leaders Leicester City – was his side’s NINTH league defeat of a dismal season.
Now Hiddink will return to the club, having proven hugely popular with players, the board and fans during his first spell.
The Dutchman arrived in February 2009, following Luiz Felipe Scolari’s ill-fated seven month stint in charge. He lost only once in the Premier League, took the side to the semi-finals of the European Cup – where they were a matter of minutes from beating eventual winners Barcelona – and won the FA Cup, beating Everton in the final.
Blues skipper John Terry and then-goalkeeper Petr Cech both implored the club’s hierarchy to persuade Hiddink to stay on a long-term deal. However, Hiddink had vowed to remain in his role as Russia boss, always stating that his appointment was only for a short period.
Guus Hiddink at Chelsea
Hiddink, who took PSV Eindhoven to six Eredivisie titles and the European Cup in 1998, left his post as Russia coach in 2010, having failed to lead the side to the 2010 World Cup. He quickly pitched up in charge of Tukey, but failed to take them to Euro 2012, beaten by Croatia in the playoffs.
A 16-month spell with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala followed, before he made a surprise return to the international arena with Holland in 2014 – succeeding Louis van Gaal for a second spell with the World Cup semi-finalists.
However, after 15 months in the job, Hiddink was fired by the Dutch FA after a miserable start to qualification for the 2016 European Championships, winning just four of his 10 matches in charge. The Oranje failed to recover, finishing fourth in their six-team group.
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Now, after Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge ended amid in-fighting and disunity, Hiddink will return until the end of the season.
His first task will be to reinvigorate a squad that only seven months ago had comfortably finished as champions – but which currently sits just one point above the bottom three.
Trophies will also be a target, with their FA Cup campaign getting underway in January and the Blues having advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will meet Paris Saint-Germain for the third time in as many seasons.