The campaign to keep Guus Hiddink at Chelsea continues to gather pace.
The Dutchman insists he will quit the Blues in the summer to concentrate on his job with the Russian national side, but there is growing pressure on him to stay.
“I would love for him to say he is staying for three years,” said Michael Ballack. “Everybody in the club and around the club can feel he is a great manager.”
Goalkeeper Petr Cech added: “He is a very good coach and we want him to stay. But it is a difficult political situation and we will have to wait to see what happens.”
Guus Hiddink has underlined his intention to honour the terms of his initial agreement with Chelsea and leave the club at the end of the season – regardless of any success he might have in the meantime.
The fine start to his temporary stint at Stamford Bridge, encompassing a sequence of victories only ended by the midweek Champions League draw with Juventus has led to an increasing clamour for the Blues to extend their partnership with the Dutchman to next term and beyond.
But Hiddink has frequently stressed the importance of his role with Russia, a job he intends to continue in a full-time capacity at the end of his Chelsea contract. He said: “I made it very clear a few weeks ago – and again recently – what the future will be (for me) after May 30th. I don’t have to do that again.”
Senior stars Petr Cech and Michael Ballack have this week joined the chorus for Hiddink to stay on, insisting they would welcome a permanent deal.
Hiddink said: “They might change their minds about me when I put them on the bench or not even in the squad
“But there is a good atmosphere of work here and we are very demanding of each other. If they are happy with the way we are working and it’s going well with results it’s all okay.
“I have been very happy not just with the regular starters but with all the other players, who I’ve been watching and observing. Everyone is committed.
Hiddink’s side take on Manchester City on Sunday, while Liverpool attempt to keep their own title bid afloat against pace-setters Manchester United on Saturday.
By the time the Blues kick off, the trophy race may be down to just two – with defeat for Rafael Benitez’s side signalling the end of their realistic interest in the title.
The Dutchman previously predicted that Chelsea would need to win every match to have any chance of catching Manchester United and, while he has duly delivered with nine points from three matches, it has made no impression on a gap to United that could be 10 points by Sunday morning.
“Our first concern is our game of course against Manchester City,” said Hiddink. “We have the possibility to watch. It will be a beautiful clash to watch and if Liverpool can do some harm then great because it will make for a more exciting end to the season. But United look very determined and if they win then they can do the same to Liverpool.
“When I said we could win the league we were on schedule at that time but United have not made any mistakes since and neither are we. Until it is impossible, then we will fight.”
With senior Chelsea players, including Peter Cech and Michael Ballack, having expressed their hope that Hiddink will stay, the 62-year-old again reiterated his intention to return full-time to the Russia manager’s job at the end of the season.
“I have made very clear a few weeks ago and more recently what will happen after the 30th May and we stick with that,” he said. “If there is a good atmosphere then we like that and the attitude of players towards me is good.
“I didn’t find any isolated group of players within the team. It’s easy when you have won games to say as a manager that it has improved but I have not seen what happened before. It is more interesting to see the reaction when things have not gone well in one or two games than it is when you have won a few.”
Of a rejuvenated Didier Drogba, he added: “I don’t know what is different. I only saw him in the World Cup and after not so much in person but he is very committed for the team, he has responded very well to the team and contributes very well in the team.”