Hiddink Rusya'ya ilk gittiğinde ¨Hollandalı Çiftçi¨ lafları yemiş de bir gazeteciden o açıdan diyorum. Aşağıda daha Türkiye ile anlaştığı kesinleşmeden önce (dün yani) Guardian Sport Blog'da Hiddink'i öven ama ¨artık Rusya'yı bırak¨ diye biten bir yazı var. Özetle iyi futbol oynattı, Rusların Sovyetler sonrası yıkılan kendine güvenlerini yerine getirdi ve birçok Rus futbolcuya Avrupa'da oynama fırsatı yarattı diyor.
NOT: Yazıyı tarayıp geçebilirsiniz ama yorumları kesin okuyun. Gorbaçov bizi demokrasi diye diye yaktın bak Çin'e diye başlayıp Alman Panzerleri'ne ne oldu takımın yarısı göçmen diye bitiren arkadaşa (HowlingSeth) dikkat.
Guus Hiddink is leaving Russia as he found them, out of the World Cup and with their future uncertain, but the national side made great strides under his tutelage. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA
Guus Hiddink took the Russia job just after they had failed to qualify for the World Cup and he walks away from the Russia job just after they have failed to qualify for a World Cup, but to suggest he has left them where he found them would be absurd. While his departure, of course, is tinged by disappointment %u2013 and perhaps even a little recrimination %u2013 in his four years in charge he has overseen the country's elevation to a serious football nation.
Hiddink's contract does not formally expire until 30 June, which complicates any attempt to lead a side at the World Cup (and he has said he would not take a World Cup job out of respect to Russia), but he has been linked with Turkey, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and even a return to South Korea, while Russia have remained tight-lipped over a possible replacement. Given that problems financing Hiddink's reported �6.25m a year are thought to have contributed to their split, though, it seems likely that Russia will opt for a domestic coach.
The very fact that Russia's playoff defeat to Slovenia prompted such a gnashing of teeth, rather than the resigned shrug it would have provoked pre-Hiddink, is evidence of the advances they made under his leadership. The first seven major tournaments after the Soviet Union's fragmentation brought three first-round exits and four failures to qualify.
Hiddink, though, gave them Euro 2008 and the memories not merely of reaching the semi-final, but of two matches %u2013 against Sweden and Holland %u2013 in which they played scintillating football reminiscent of the best Soviet style. In practical terms, his legacy was to ensure that they go into the qualifiers for Euro 2012 as one of the top seeds, but the emotional and symbolic impact was far greater than that: in giving Russian football a modern, cosmopolitan outlook, he restored its pride.
Given the hype that followed, it is easy to forget that when Hiddink arrived one columnist described him as "this Dutch farmer", while the former Russia coach Valery Gazzaev asked how a foreigner could possibly "understand the complexities of the Russian soul". Whether he understood them or not, Hiddink removed from them the fear. Players were encouraged to swear in training and, on the first day of get-togethers, to joke about each other's club form. Roman Pavlyuchenko was one of a number of players to speak of how players began to look forward to national matches rather than seeing them as a bit of a chore.
Euro 2008 and Zenit's Uefa Cup success opened western Europe's eyes to the potential of Russian players, and since then there has been a steady drip of their players into western European leagues. Some of them have been accused of losing their focus on the national side, but the overall effect of exposure to the highest level of league football must surely be beneficial (even if making the Russian league the equal of La Liga or the Premier League is the long-term goal).
And yet for all that Russia, again, will not be at the World Cup. Memories of throwing away a 2-0 lead in the play-off against Slovenia will haunt Hiddink and the nation's fans and, quite understandably, raised the first real criticism of him. To an extent he was undone by a loss of form on the part of pretty much every centre-forward he could have picked, but his continued faith in the Sergei Ignashevich-Vasili Berezutsky defensive partnership was baffling.
Moreover, his reluctance to select players from the Russian champions Rubin Kazan seemed odd %u2013 and awoke all the old gripes about Moscow-centrism that he seemed to have been done away with %u2013 particularly his sparing use of the holding midfielder Sergei Semak. Presumably Hiddink felt that at 33 he could not manage two such demanding games in such a short space of time but the fact remains that in the 106 minutes he played Russia scored two without reply, and in the 74 he didn't they conceded twice. Whoever replaces Hiddink, sorting out the centre of defence and finding a new holding midfielder must be a priority.
Hiddink benefited, of course, from the wave of optimism that swept Russia in the latter part of the decade. As Vladimir Putin became an increasingly significant figure on the diplomatic stage, CSKA and Zenit both won the Uefa Cup, and Russia won the world ice-hockey championship and even the Eurovision Song Contest. Shortly after Zenit had beaten Rangers in that 2008 Uefa Cup final in Manchester, their manager Dick Advocaat received a call from Putin, congratulating him on having "written another chapter in this glorious age of Russian sport".
The question now is how long that will endure, not just post-Hiddink, but post-boom. Russian GDP dipped in 2009 after years of stellar growth, and the impact is already being felt in football. FK Moskva have been forced to withdraw from the league after NorNikel decided it could no longer afford to fund them, while Krylya Sovetov could follow them out of existence this week with debts reported to total $80m.
That could force more Russian players abroad and, if the quality of imports declines, there must be concerns for the coming generation. While top players may benefit from exposure to life abroad, there must be a domestic league of sufficient standard for young players to develop to the necessary standard to compete internationally.
Hiddink inspired great progress in Russian football, but now might be a good time to leave.