Guus Hiddink believes Antonio Conte is well equipped to deal with the pressure of turning Chelsea’s fortunes around next season.
Conte was confirmed as the permanent replacement for Jose Mourinho on Monday, with the Italian to vacate his position as coach of his country’s national team after Euro 2016.
Hiddink has steered Chelsea away from the lower reaches of the Premier League since taking over in December and remains unbeaten in 14 top-flight matches at the helm.
Despite their impressive run, Chelsea are only 10th in the table, 10 points off the Champions League places, but the Dutchman has confidence in former Juventus coach Conte to take the club forward.
Hiddink said in his pre-match media conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea City: “It’s the choice of the club, when you look at his record, he had a good spell in Juve. It’s always good because this club is always keen to play for titles.
“It’s always a big job regardless of the circumstances Chelsea have been in this year. He’s equipped and he’s able and he’s used to the pressure that is always on in big clubs to get titles.”
With John Terry expected to leave the club at the end of the season and the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba no longer at Stamford Bridge, Hiddink conceded a lack of players with knowledge of Chelsea’s culture could make things tough for Conte.
“That’s an extra complication, when I came here in 2009 there was this transition but the team was firm regarding the personalities, players who knew the culture of the club with those guys,” Hiddink added.
“It’s a bit different [now], that’s not easy but I think they are well aware, full of brightness and energy to get it restored.”
Asked if Conte could struggle to attract players to the club with no Champions League football, Hiddink replied: “That depends on the project, if you can provide the players a plan for next season and the season after that, then there might be some attraction for players to come on that road.
“The CV of a manager can also attract players, he is showing he wants to come in knowing Chelsea will not play Champions League next year. That commitment may also attract players.”
Although Hiddink’s future lies elsewhere, he is happy to lend a hand to Conte, saying: “I had a short meeting with him about general things. Generally about the club and the work we did in the last months.
“If needed, I’m available for the club. This is a club which I love very much.”
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