Italian Antonio Conte faces a complicated task when he takes over at Chelsea next season, interim manager Guus Hiddink said on Friday.
Former Juventus boss Conte was named as Hiddink’s successor on Monday and will begin a new era at Stamford Bridge after leading Italy at the European Championship in France in June.
His task will be to restore last year’s champions Chelsea to the top of the Premier League after this season’s slump.
However, with a dressing room lacking the strong personalities that have been a feature of the past decade, Hiddink believes it could take time.
“That’s an extra complication,” the Dutchman told a news conference on the eve of 10th-placed Chelsea’s game at Swansea City on Saturday.
“When I came here the first time in 2009 the team was firm regarding the personalites. The players knew the culture of English football and the club such as (Frank) Lampard, (John)Terry, now it’s a bit different and that won’t be easy.”
Hiddink took over on an interim basis from Luis Felipe Scolari seven years ago and with the likes of Lampard, Terry, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole at his disposal he helped them to third in the league and won the FA Cup.
Only Terry remains of those stalwarts but Hiddink has no doubt Conte will turn around Chelsea’s fortunes, even if he appeared rattled by the line of questioning on Friday.
“I thought we had a game tomorrow but okay let’s start with that subject,” said Hiddink who has not lost a league game since taking over from Jose Mourinho in December.
“When you look at his record he had a good spell at Juventus where he won the title. That’s always good because this club is always keen to play for titles.
“It’s a big job regardless of the circumstances Chelsea have been in this year. He is equipped, able and used to the pressure which is always on at big clubs to win titles.”
Hiddink said he met Conte when the Italian was introduced to the squad on Monday but refused to divulge what he had spoken to the 46-year-old about.
“If I have something to say … I will do so directly,” he said.
Chelsea travel to Swansea without injured skipper Terry, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic while striker Diego Costa is suspended.
“We have a few injured players so we will bring in some youngsters,” Hiddink said
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