International fixtures and friendlies especially, in most people’s eyes, are normally seen as a disruption to the ever growing number of games that players have to play in a calendar season.
However, as one season comes to an end and preparation for the next season begins, for Chelsea, it could turn out to be a very important week.
Daniel Sturridge scored after 9 minutes for England’s under 21’s in this weekend’s fixture against Norway, being assisted by Chelsea’s very own Ryan Bertrand for a simple tap in.
With the under 21’s European Championship on the horizon, 2011 is sure to be an interesting time for Sturridge who could really prove his credentials to the Chelsea team by firing England to victory.
He seems hungry for success and wants to play at the top; this is his time to shine after an already hugely impressive 2011.
Gus Hiddink’s Turkey played Belgium on Friday, which resulted in a 1-1 draw. This still keeps them in touching distance to qualify, but only as second in the group to an ever remarkable Germany side, who are 7 points in front of Turkey and 6 of Belgium, respectively.
This will obviously encourage more speculation on whether or not Gus could be the next Chelsea manager. Yet the question on everybody’s lips is: why hasn’t he denied the speculation or spoken to the Turkish FA and given them his vote of confidence.
If the reports are correct, it’s only a matter of time before Hiddink is finally given the Chelsea job on a permanent basis, which will lift Chelsea and, with the correct signings, push them on to have a potentially fantastic 2011/2012 season.
Again, Spain showed everybody why they are the best International team on the planet, their 4-0 demolition of the USA was fascinating to watch, not only for the football but, for the final goal of the night, scored by Fernando Torres.
It was a typical Torres goal; a burst of pace, getting beyond the last defender and finishing past the helpless Tim Howard. Yet in the last game of the season (against Everton) Torres failed to even register a shot against Howard, this needs to be addressed in future dynamics.
Moving forward, it seems as though Gus Hiddink will get the job at Chelsea. One thing he brought back to the Chelsea team, after Mourhino left, was positive squad morale and a sense of togetherness. This meant that Chelsea finished, in the end, a respectable third (behind a Torres inspired Liverpool and, the Champions that year, Manchester United).
Hiddink is known world-wide for getting the best out of his players. He took South Korea to 4th place at the World Cup in 2002, he lost against the French in the semi-finals of France 98 (as the manager of Holland) and lead Australia to their best ever finish at the 2006 World Cup; that’s not to mention securing Russia a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2008.
Gus also proved his credentials to Chelsea the last time he was at The Bridge for the second half of the 2008/2009 season; only losing one game whilst in charge, winning the FA cup and being within minutes of a well deserved second consecutive Champions League final.
Over the past two decades, Hiddink has proved to be a great international manager in cup competitions as well as having vast experience of dealing with long and gruelling league campaigns. Add that to getting the best out of individuals, Gus is surely the only contender from the job.
He turned Florent Malouda into arguably the premier league’s best left midfielder during his short reign as care taker manager. Surely, Hiddink could be the man to spark confidence back in to a Fernando Torres who could potentially lead Chelsea to more domestic and, most importantly, European success.