Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ancelotti Has Taken My Game on to Another Level, Says Mikel

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ancelotti Has Taken My Game on to Another Level, Says Mikel

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson Football Correspondent

JOHN OBI MIKEL feels he is in the best form of his career and believes Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti deserves all the credit.

Mikel, who has been at the club since 2006, has progressed this season and played a major role in their climb to the top of the table.

The Nigerian international looked like he would struggle to keep his place in the first team with the return to fitness of Michael Essien and the signing of Brazil star Ramires in the summer.

But Ancelotti has kept faith with the 23-year-old and started the holding midfielder in every Premier League game this season.

Mikel said: "Carlo is a great guy and I don't think you will ever come across a more laid-back and calm manager. He is a friendly guy and likes to help the players. He is a great manager and I want to work with him for many more years to come.

"I don't think there was a big change to be made to my game. I just think as a young player you always know that there are bits and pieces to be added to your game.

"Carlo talked to me about playing more balls up the field but it is something that has to be done when the opportunity is there.

"My role is to try keep stability in the team and help the defence and midfield as much as I can. I try to supply the balls to the strikers as well.

"I hold the responsibility of things going wrong sometimes. I'm 23 years old and being in this position is a big thing but I need to deal with it and I am enjoying my time here.

"When I was growing up I was an attacking midfielder and used to score goals but with this team we can't afford to have everyone running forward.

"Everyone wants to score goals here.

Ashley Cole loves to go forward and sometimes plays like a striker.

"Then we have Branislav Ivanovic or Paulo Ferreira going from right-back, too, so we need someone to keep the balance in the team and that's where I come in. …

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