Guus Hiddink has changed atmosphere of Chelsea dressing room

Midfielder John Obi Mikel heaps praise on the club’s interim Dutch manager

Chelsea players celebrate a goal during the  5-1 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup. Photograph: EPA

Chelsea players celebrate a goal during the 5-1 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup. Photograph: EPA

 

The atmosphere in Chelsea’s dressing room has changed since Jose Mourinho was dismissed in December, according to Mikel John Obi, who says he would like the interim manager Guus Hiddink to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this season.

The 28-year-old midfielder, speaking after the 5-1 win over a significantly weakened Manchester City in the FA Cup fifth round, believes the players are more relaxed under Hiddink because he “does not hold grudges” and treats players with respect, illustrated by the improved form of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.

“From day one, since Guus has come in, the atmosphere has changed,” Mikel said. “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.”

Mikel added: “You can see Diego. It takes a lot to get Diego in a good mood.”

While Hiddink has said he will not be at the club after this season, suggesting on Friday that his successor’s replacement will have a difficult rebuilding job, the Nigeria international would “definitely” like to see the 69-year-old Dutchman given the job permanently.

“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 per cent of them want him to stay so I mean, 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.”

The improved form of Fabregas is another indicator of how Chelsea have transformed since Hiddink’s arrival. Although they lost against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie last week, with Mikel scoring what may prove an important away goal, Hiddink remains unbeaten in the league and has guided the team to the Cup quarter-finals, where they face Everton away.

“It is fantastic to see Cesc playing well again,” Mikel added. “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.”

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