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Leading bookmakers make Guus Hiddink, the Dutch manager of the Russian
Leading bookmakers make Guus Hiddink, the Dutch manager of the Russian national soccer team, the favorite to take over at Chelsea.

Chelsea fired their Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday after a run of what the club called "deteriorating" results. The London team, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, is currently fourth in the English Premier League after a 0-0 home draw with Hull City on Saturday.

Since Abramovich bought the club in 2003 they have not finished lower than second in the league.

British bookmakers William Hill make Hiddink 7/4 favorite to become the next Chelsea manager. Avram Grant, sacked by Chelsea at the end of last season despite taking the club to the Champions League final, second place in the Premier League and the final of the Carling Cup, is second favorite at 11/4.

Hiddink's compatriot and former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard is 7/2, while another Dutchman, Dick Advocaat, the current manager of Zenit St. Petersburg, is 20/1.

Hiddink, 62, was also one of the favorites for the Chelsea post when Grant was dismissed last year. His wages in Russia are paid by Abramovich, and the trainer's agent, Cees van Nieuwenhuizen, told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday that Hiddink would speak to the billionaire.

"Because of the personal relationship with Mr. Abramovich, he will definitely talk to him," he said.

Nieuwenhuizen added however that Hiddink "is focused on the job with Russia and he is looking forward to qualifying for the World Cup."

The agent also suggested that any move by Abramovich to take Hiddink away from the Russian side, which he led to the semi-finals of Euro 2008, would be vastly unpopular in the billionaire's homeland.

Hiddink, currently at a training camp with the Russian side in Turkey, told reporters that he had "no news."

"I'm not concerned with what has been said about me elsewhere, I'm working here now," he added.

He has however expressed on a number of occasions his reluctance to take on a club role.

The ex-Real Madrid and Dutch national team coach took the Russia post in 2006. Despite some initial resistance to having a foreigner in charge of the team, the vast majority of the country has now been won over. Indeed, such was the affection felt for Hiddink that babies were named in his honor after the side's 3-1 victory over the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008.

Hiddink's contract runs through the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, although he earlier said that had not ruled out extending it "if he felt needed."


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