Quotes – Mikel: “99% of Players Want Hiddink To Stay”

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Updated: February 22, 2016

Guus Hiddink has marked a revival at Chelsea FC since his time taking over as interim manager.  While his charge was originally to return order to the squad, his jovial attitude in training and his confident demeanor during press conferences has apparently extended to the team itself.  Before the loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Chelsea had gone on an 11-match unbeaten run, and several players whose seasons had been lackluster have finally found their form.

According to John Obi Mikel, who has been a player rejuvenated under Hiddink, the players have responded to the influence of Hiddink.  Speaking after the 5-1 victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup, Mikel highlighted how his new manager is responsible for Chelsea’s rediscovery of form and what exactly he has brought to the team.

From day one, since Guus has come in, the atmosphere has changed. The players feel more relaxed, people know what their jobs are and people are getting on with their jobs in a more relaxed way. And in a way they can perform very well. He has given responsibility to people and expects them to thrive on it and make sure they do it in way where they feel comfortable. I think that is what the players are showing now. You can see Diego. It takes a lot to get Diego in a good mood. [Guardian]

When you come into the training ground, he doesn’t get into people’s business, he gets on with his own thing and players feel very comfortable and know exactly what to do so when he gets on the training pitch, he doesn’t need to speak. We all know what he wants and it is the same when we go into a game. We get on the pitch and know exactly what he wants. He doesn’t stand up that much to speak, but we know exactly what he wants. [Telegraph]

Mikel also stressed that the players would love to see Guus stay on as a permanent manager.  The club crave stability, and he’s apparently the man that the Nigerian and his teammates want to play under.

Obviously, definitely I want him to stay. It is the choice of the owner, the club and the board. They will have to decide but if you speak to the players, 98 or 99% of them want him to stay. We are very happy, we are performing well and let’s hope this continues. It depends on the board and it depends on Guus if he wants to continue. He has said that he is here until the end of the season but you never know, he might change his mind. If the club want to appoint him, fair enough. His record speaks for itself. [Guardian]

The 28-year-old also made a subtle suggestion that Mourinho had been a bit too eager to involve himself in the players’ business, and that he may have held grudges against those who angered him.

No [he does not lose his temper with his players]. No. When he gets upset he tries to clear the air straight away. He speaks to whoever is involved and lets you know what you have done is wrong. This football club is bigger than anyone and he puts the record straight, right away. He does not hold grudges. It is finished and we move on. [Telegraph]

Clearly, the mood in the dressing room is one of support for Hiddink.  But, as Mikel said, the Dutchman has asserted he’ll be off at the end of the season.  This guarantees that the race for the Chelsea hot-seat will become interesting in the coming months.

Mikel also highlighted how Cesc Fàbregas has hit his stride, playing with confidence and contributing offensively.

It is fantastic to see Cesc playing well again. What an intelligent player. He is not the quickest but being, I wouldn’t say slow … but the way he plays, his intelligence is amazing. In training you think you will get the ball off him but because you are there, he knows what to do. As long as we can help him, to do the dirty work and get him on the ball, we have good chances. He is happy again as well. [Guardian]

It’s quite telling that Mikel is aware of Cesc Fàbregas’ defensive deficiencies, despite his being played in holding midfield quite consistently.  Under Mourinho, he often occupied a more advanced role, but seemed lost in several matches before the Portuguese’s sacking.  Some Blues fans even went as far as to label him the ringleader of a dressing room mutiny.

Overall, John Obi Mikel’s words provide some valuable insight into the behind the scenes at Chelsea.  Clearly, the players are fond of Guus Hiddink and respect how he’s righted the ship in West London.  His decision to leave at the end of the season seems final, but perhaps testimony like Mikel’s could convince him to stay.

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