Belfast Telegraph

John Obi Mikel hails Guss Hiddink's influence at Chelsea

By Mark Ogden

Guus Hiddink has stabilised Chelsea's season by making the players feel "free" to express themselves after returning to Stamford Bridge in the wake of Jose Mourinho's dismissal last December.

John Obi Mikel, Chelsea's goalscorer in Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League round-of-16 first-leg defeat against Paris Saint-Germain, believes the Dutchman's more relaxed approach has been the crucial ingredient in reviving the team's fortunes to the extent that they retain hopes of silverware in Europe and the FA Cup ahead of Sunday's fifth-round tie at home to Manchester City.

Nigeria midfielder Mikel claims Chelsea's performance against PSG at Parc des Princes offered proof that Hiddink's approach was working.

"Guus has come in again and settled things," Mikel said. "Players feels free to play and free to have responsibility and thrive on responsibility, but do it in a very relaxed way

"That is sometimes what players need. Guus has come in and done that. We're picking up results in the league and we're still very much in this Champions League tie. We've been through a difficult period, no doubt about it, but Guus has come in and settled the ship."

Mikel, 28, has returned to prominence under Hiddink after becoming a fringe player during the final months of Mourinho's reign.

Despite now playing his 10th season for Chelsea, the goal against Paris Saint-Germain was only Mikel's sixth for the club.

He added: "It feels great to be back in the team. Sometimes it is disappointing not to be part of the team, not to play, but I've always been professional.

"I never speak out, I never get upset. I carry on doing my job, coming to training every day to train with the guys who are playing.

"I have always believed in myself and kept doing what I was doing and Guus came in and has given me the opportunity, and hopefully that will continue.

"It is my 10th season and it will be 11 years at the club since 2006. I don't know, maybe I will have a testimonial soon!"

Belfast Telegraph


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