Mikel impressed by Villas-Boas regime
John Obi Mikel has lauded the impact of new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas. Villas-Boas has presided over a tough regime since he welcomed the Chelsea players back last week, holding gruelling double training sessions in a bid to prepare the players for the season ahead.
The campaign will be Villas-Boas' first in English football as a manager and, despite being just 33, the Portuguese is determined to give his squad every chance of winning back the Premier League trophy from Manchester United.
Villas-Boas has taken on Roberto di Matteo as his new assistant and has added new faces from his Porto backroom staff while promoting Steve Holland to assistant first-team coach. Mikel insists it has been easy adapting to life under the new regime and believes the hard slog of double training will improve the club's chances of winning the league.
"The new manager has worked really hard on our sharpness and it is going very well," Mikel told Chelsea's website. "The double sessions are hard but working with the ball makes it so much easier than running all the time, and it is enjoyable as well."
"The other coaches are also playing their part in supporting the manager and adding their own ideas. Everything so far has been great, we're all enjoying their training and everything is going well so hopefully we can have a good season and for me it will be good to pick up information because I still want to improve."
An early gauge on how preparations are going for Chelsea will come this afternoon when they take to the field under Villas-Boas for the first time in a behind closed doors friendly against Wycombe Wanderers. Mikel, who is hoping to play some part in the game at the club's training ground, spent a large portion of last season on the bench after dropping down the pecking order under former manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Chelsea's pursuit of Tottenham's Luka Modric shows that the club are determined to bolster their midfield ranks, which could be a bad sign for the Nigerian. However, Mikel's chances of earning more first-team action were boosted yesterday by the news that fellow midfielder Michael Essien has been ruled out for six months with a serious knee injury.
Mikel hopes that the Ghanian is back in action soon though. "Unfortunately Michael Essien has been injured, and we all feel sorry for him and wish him well and hopefully he can come back very soon," Mikel said.