Hiddink to return?

Grant riddle adds to Chelsea questions

April 7, 2011
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

West Ham United have made a 'check call' to Chelsea to seek clarification over whether Avram Grant is part of Roman Abramovich's plans to overhaul the management of the club for next season.

Guus Hiddink and Roman Abramovich
PA PhotosGuus Hiddink won the FA Cup during a three-month spell as Chelsea boss in 2009

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Chelsea have denied interest in a return for the Israeli manager. Yet, speculation is intensifying over the soon-to-be vacant role of director of football at Stamford Bridge, and further to that, the manager's role too with Carlo Ancelotti's hold on his job looking weak.

Ancelotti's position has been under review for some time, which is hardly a secret at Stamford Bridge, while director of football Frank Arnesen has already announced his departure at the end of the season.

Grant is more likely to be under consideration as director of football, a post he originally held under Jose Mourinho, before stepping up as manager and coming within a goalpost's width of landing the Champions League in May 2008.

However, ESPNsoccernet has learned that Chelsea told the relegation-threatened Hammers that no talks have taken place to bring Grant back to the Bridge.

Whether those are the thoughts of Abramovich remain to be seen, but if Grant has been counted out, then that will heighten speculation that Guus Hiddink is destined for a return to West London.

The highly popular Hiddink has made it clear he has had enough of full-on club management, and is currently national coach of Turkey. While he would welcome a return to the Bridge, it would be in a more stable role as sporting director.

However, Abramovich might want him back as manager for an interim period, to reprise the role in which he served for the second half of a 2008-09 season that saw Chelsea lift the FA Cup after the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari. Abramovich would use Hiddink's interregnum as a time period to assesses who best to take control for the longer term.

The likelihood of Ancelotti staying for the rest of this season largely depends on the outcome of the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford. Failure to win the elusive European crown will likely result in the Italian's departure.

That would not be immediate as Chelsea are still battling to cement their place in the top four to guarantee Champions League football next season. The signs are not good for the Italian with ESPNsoccernet learning of renewed disquiet emanating from Abramovich himself.