Hiddink not likely to return to managing

LONDON • Guus Hiddink does not rule out returning to management but thinks it is unlikely. He also confirmed that he turned down an approach from Leicester City in February.

Intermediaries contacted the football coach about managing the English Premier League champions after Claudio Ranieri was sacked just nine months after leading Leicester to a shock title. But the Dutchman politely rebuffed them, and advised they appoint Craig Shakespeare as Ranieri's successor.

"To be strictly correct, I didn't talk directly with them. But you know how the line goes. 'They think of you'... They asked not directly but indirectly but I said, no. If you have decided to sack Ranieri, why don't you go with your No. 2 guy?

"Shakespeare knows the club, knows the players. Why don't you go there, you will see what will happen, I said. Happily I was right.

"Liverpool (in Shakespeare's first game) didn't know what hit them. Within 20 minutes, 2-0. And five days later Leicester won at Hull. The relegation was solved in five days."

Hiddink is big on understanding the players, having a handle on their culture. He has managed in South Korea, Australia, Russia, Turkey and England.

"When I go somewhere I like to go into the culture. I prefer maybe one Dutch assistant and the rest to be local colleagues, because then I learn a lot of information," he said.

For these reasons he approves of the Football Association appointing Gareth Southgate as the England manager.

"It is wise, with Southgate and (assistant manager) Steve Holland, they are going with their own guys and doing well," he said. "For England, I say Southgate, Holland, Eddie Howe, give them room to perform."

The 70-year-old has rejected "a bit" of coaching work recently. Current plans involve TV punditry at this summer's Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup, with US network Fox courting him.

He has turned down several Chinese club jobs but what might interest him would be a technical role, if it came up, training new Chinese coaches to support the country's football boom.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Hiddink not likely to return to managing'. Print Edition | Subscribe