Chelsea atmosphere has improved: Mikel

Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel (left) has nothing but praise for Guus Hiddink and is delighted to see the Dutchman back in charge of Chelsea.
Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel (left) has nothing but praise for Guus Hiddink and is delighted to see the Dutchman back in charge of Chelsea.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Midfielder says Blues are heading in the right direction now that Jose is gone

LONDON • John Obi Mikel claimed on Tuesday that Chelsea's players have moved on from Jose Mourinho and that the atmosphere in the dressing room has improved since his departure.

It is less than two weeks since Mourinho was sacked after having Christmas lunch at Chelsea's training ground, but the most successful manager in the club's history already appears to have been consigned to the past, at least by the players.

Mikel played under Mourinho in both the Portuguese's spells at Chelsea, but does not seem to have been upset by his dismissal.

Although praising the 52-year-old as a fantastic manager and a fantastic guy, Mikel said that the dressing room has been a happier place since he left.

"We've moved on and the atmosphere has improved since the change of manager," said the midfielder.

GOOD MANAGER BUT HE HAD TO GO

Jose is a fantastic manager and will always be a fantastic guy. But sometimes football is a cruel game and you have to move on.

JOHN OBI MIKEL saying that time was up for Jose Mourinho

"It's fine now, we've just not been getting results. Jose is a fantastic manager and will always be a fantastic guy. But sometimes football is a cruel game and you have to move on.

"He came back to the club a second time and won two trophies, but now he's gone and we have to move on. Is it the right decision? Who knows? We'll only see in the future."

Mikel is one of three current Chelsea players to have played under new manager Guus Hiddink during his previous stint as Blues caretaker, along with John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.

And the Nigerian backed Hiddink to improve the club's fortunes once again after winning the FA Cup in his first spell at Stamford Bridge.

The Dutchman has so far overseen two draws - against Watford and Manchester United - and watched the Blues defeat Sunderland from the stands.

With the champions on a three-game unbeaten run, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes the side are building momentum.

The Blues , 14th in the table and 19 points adrift of leaders Arsenal, travel to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Courtois was optimistic that the revival has already begun.

"We are getting into a flow and a very good flow to win games," the Belgian told the club's website.

"Of course you cannot think it is not possible to get relegated.

"Obviously we don't think like that, we look forward and I think with the dynamic we are in now and the games we are playing, soon we will start winning games."

Palace are flying high in fifth place, having gone six games without defeat.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'CHELSEA ATMOSPHERE HAS IMPROVED: MIKEL'. Print Edition | Subscribe