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Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin has expressed his concern for the future
Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin has expressed his concern for the future of the Russian national side if Guus Hiddink were to leave the team he took to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

Hiddink was appointed manager of Chelsea on Wednesday until the end of the season. He replaces Brazilian trainer Luiz Felipe Scolari in the job. He has however pledged to continue coaching Russia, a position he has held since July 2006.

"For me, the most important thing is that Hiddink doesn't leave the Russian team," Arshavin told Sport Express. "If Guus was to quit, our side could just simply collapse without him. I don't see any realistic replacement for him."

"However, if he feels he has the strength to help Chelsea, then that's how it should be," Arshavin said.

The 27-year-old Russian international added that he had ambiguous feelings about Hiddink's appointment as Chelsea trainer.

"On one hand, I would like to wish Guus good luck, but on the other hand, Chelsea are now are rivals. Also, I am worried that if everything goes well for Guus in London then he will stay with Chelsea for longer," he said.

Arshavin's teammate in the Russian national side, Tottenham's Roman Pavlyuchenko was somewhat calmer about Hiddink taking over at Stamford Bridge.

"I'm used to Hiddink making the right decision. Guus is a very wise person who has a lot of experience. Everything he does brings forth its rewards. I wish him good luck," the striker told the paper, adding that, "I would not be surprised if Chelsea win the title now this season."

Pavlyuchenko was amused when asked by Sport Express if Hiddink's appointment had been discussed in England.

"I get the impression that no one discusses anything in England apart from soccer," he said.

Hiddink became the manager of the Russian national team in 2006 and immediately set about rebuilding a demoralized side that had not managed to get out of the group stages at a major tournament since the break up of the Soviet Union. The Dutch coach brought in a host of new, young players, and Russia were transformed into an attacking, adventurous side, subsequently making the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

Despite some initial resistance in Russia to having a foreigner in charge of the national team, the vast majority of the country has now been won over to Hiddink. Indeed, such was the affection felt for the Dutchman 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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