Liverpool FC’s former French boss Gerard
Houllier has emerged as one of the leading contenders to take over from Socceroos’ miracle worker Guus
Hiddink, who has announced he’s set to take control of Russia’s
national side after the World Cup in Germany.

But confirmation of what TheSMH‘s football
scribe Michael Cockerill described as the game’s “worst kept secret”, comes hot on the heels of a BBC report that the English FA didn’t follow up their initial approach to the Dutchman to
take over from Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The 59-year-old
Socceroos and PSV Eindhoven supremo put an end to reports linking him with the England job, confirming he’s heading
to Russia. “I’m glad that this
is off my chest now,” Hiddink said in a BBC report. “I have been to Russia already to look at things
and I already know that it will be fun to work there.”

Hiddink’s contract is rumoured to be worth
about six million euros per year ($A10m), to be funded by Chelsea’s billionaire Russian owner, Roman

The SMH reports that FFA chief executive
John O’Neill has already interviewed at least three candidates. Several
high-profile coaches – including Argentine Carlos Bilardo, Brazilian Luis
Felipe Scolari, and French duo Philippe Troussier and Gerard Houllier –
previously linked to the job before Hiddink’s appointment could again be in the

Meanwhile, the Adelaide Advertiser has
gone out on a limb and predicted that Houllier looks set to take over Australia’s top job.

John Boultbee, the FFA’s head of high
performance, said news of Hiddink’s decision to take on the Russia
role did not cast doubt on his commitment to Australia’s
World Cup campaign. “If they finalise the deal then Russia are
very lucky to have snared Guus for the next four years just as we are extremely
fortunate to have him for the next three months,” Boultbee said. “He is Aussie
Guus rather than Ruski Guus for a few months yet!”