Chelsea and Nigeria midfielder Mikel Obi is loving life under new manager Guus Hiddink describing the Dutchman as a father figure. And with Hiddink the Nigerian is confident that the Stamford Bridge team will return to the top end of the table where they are more familiar with.
The former Netherlands boss took charge of Chelsea against Watford on Saturday as he marked his first match on his return as the Blues manager.
Mikel who didn’t enjoy much of playing time this season under former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho spoke just before his compatriot Odion Ighalo visited and scored his 13th Premier League goal.
“He is still the same man (Hiddink). He likes to get involved in training, have a bit of banter with the players but at the same time it is all serious business and that is what we need,” Mikel told the official Chelsea website.
“He is always like a father figure to the team, speaking to the players individually, putting an arm around them and getting feedback from the team on what we think problems are and then trying to fix them.
“He knows exactly what he wants to do and he did it last time he was here and I think it is going to go the same way. He is going to demand a lot from the players, push everyone to the maximum in training so that when we get to the games we can perform well.
“In matches he wants his teams to react when you lose the ball, to press and recover it and then play and create chances, and create a lot of them to win games.
“Also to finish the chances because we have been playing some good football but not getting the goals we deserve so that is one thing the manager will want to bring into the team.
“He will want us to get into the box and make sure we get onto those crosses that are coming in. I think he is going to bring changes to the play and everyone is on board so we achieve those.”
Mikel played against Watford and became only the 21st to make 350 appearances for Chelsea in their 110-year history. Sixteen of Mikel’s 349 matches came during the three months Hiddink was previously in charge. The Nigerian had already made the club’s third-highest overseas player appearance before that match Chelsea forced their guests to a 2-2 result.
Just before the Saturday 4pm kick off Mikel had said of 350 appearances, “Personally it is going to be great for me if I can achieve that number.”