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Obi, second left, and other Chelsea players welcome Hiddink back to the club

Mikel Obi: Chelsea a better place without Mourinho

Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi has claimed that the atmosphere around the club has improved since Jose Mourinho was sacked as coach and replaced by Guus Hiddink.

“We’ve moved on and the atmosphere has improved since the change of manager. It’s fine now, we’ve just not been getting results.

“José 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.

“He [Hiddink] hasn’t changed much yet but he was here before and he knows the place and all the staff. The players are different – only me and John Terry were here before – but he knows what to do. We’re down there in the table for a reason so he can’t come in and perform miracles but we want to get out of there and climb the table. We’ve had three games now without losing so are making the right steps.”

Since Mourinho was sacked on 17 December, Chelsea have beaten Sunderland 3-1, and drawn 2-2 with Watford and 0-0 with Manchester United.

Obi couldn’t pinpoint why Chelsea were languishing just above the relegation zone before Mourinho was dismissed. “I’ve been as confused as everyone else. It’s difficult when you’re not playing, as you don’t really know what the problems are. I wasn’t playing that much under Mourinho so couldn’t put my finger on what was going wrong. It was a collective thing – the players and the manager were not performing.”

Hiddink was appointed as Mourinho’s successor at the club until the end of the season after having successfully stepped in to do a similar firefighting job at Chelsea when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in 2009, winning the FA Cup that season. Mikel played 16 games under him then and described the Dutchman as a “father figure” to the players.

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