Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard wants to hand Guus Hiddink the perfect going away present Saturday: an FA Cup winners' medal.
|Manager Guus Hiddink will take charge of Chelsea for the last time at the FA Cup [GALLO/GETTY]
In less than four months, the Dutch coach has rejuvenated players who seemed to lose their way under Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, and turned them back into title challengers.
"It's important to win and hopefully we can get him a medal,'' Lampard said ahead of Saturday's final against Everton.
The Wembley match is not only an opportunity for Chelsea players to show how far Hiddink has taken them, but to forget about the search for his successor and alleviate some of the bitterness of the loss to eventual winner Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals.
Uefa is investigating misconduct charges against Chelsea players in the aftermath of that match, and the recriminations could still be felt long after Hiddink is back coaching Russia full time ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
So will the positive memories for Lampard of the impact Hiddink has had on the team.
"Our form since Guus Hiddink took over has been championship-winning form, and we only didn't go to the Champions League final because of things that happened on the night, our performance over the last five months has set the standard,'' Lampard said.
"He's been very impressive, the way he handles players, the way he handles everything really. It will be great to finish off with a big day out and a win for him.''
Chelsea players were furious over a number of penalty appeals that were waved off against Barcelona, which scored a stoppage-time equaliser at Stamford Bridge to go through on away goals. Chelsea also finished third in the Premier League, seven points behind champion Manchester United.
"It's very important we win something for the confidence of the club, and take something away from the season,'' Lampard said.
"It was hard to miss out on the Champions League, but as you get a bit older you realise you can't win everything.''
A relative drought
|Frank Lampard, left, hopes to send his manager out a winner [GALLO/GETTY]
Chelsea is looking to win its first trophy since capturing the 2007 FA Cup under Jose Mourinho, who left at the start of the following season to be replaced by Avram Grant for eight months before Scolari took charge.
While AC Milan's Carlo Ancelotti is heavily tipped to fill the vacancy next season, captain John Terry just wants a peaceful offseason.
"It would be lovely to win the cup, go away and not read anything and not hear anything about Chelsea or football (for the summer),'' Terry said.
"It has been a tough couple of years with different managements and it is important the players get their rest and we come back even stronger next year.
"We don't know who is coming in and we don't know what regime he is going to bring in. But at the minute we don't really care about that. We care about Guus Hiddink. He is the man in charge.''
Moyes' reputation enhanced
While Hiddink's stock has quickly risen at Stamford Bridge, Everton counterpart David Moyes' has been on a steady ascent since arriving from Preston in 2002.
The Scot, who was named manager of the year for the third time this week by his fellow professionals at the League Managers' Association, is looking to deliver Everton's first trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1995.
"He has made this club believe they can look upwards, and for that more than anything else we worship him,'' Everton owner Bill Kenwright said.
"David has turned us into virtual European regulars, the man has achieved miracles.
"It has been be a big enough achievement securing fifth place in the league, certainly after the way this season started with those first three months of barely winning anything.''
Everton winger Steven Pienaar is not daunted by Chelsea, having drawn 0-0 twice with them in the English Premier League this season and having faced tough tests to reach Wembley.
"We have already beaten two of the top four to get to the final, Liverpool and then Manchester United, so why can't we make it three by beating Chelsea?'' the South Africa international said.
"We have drawn with them twice already, so we really believe we can beat them this time.
"But we accept that this will be a difficult final. Chelsea are a tough side with good players in all positions, but we believe we can certainly match them in the final.''