Give Rafa a chance, Chelsea ace urges fans
John Obi Mikel has spoken out against his club’s fans, becoming the first Chelsea player to do so, following the relentless taunting faced by interim manager Rafael Benitez.
The discontent among fans remains following Benitez’s time with Liverpool, in which he was an integral part of a fierce rivalry between the two clubs.
However, nearly five months after his appointment as interim boss, Roberto Di Matteo’s successor is yet to make peace with the fans, recently criticising their treatment towards him.
Mikel, who was brought on as a substitute along with Eden Hazard to chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ on Sunday against Manchester United, has spoken of the extent to which the negative vibes do affect the players on the pitch.
Coincidentally, following those controversial substitutions by Benitez Chelsea went on to score two goals and pull the tie back to 2-2, subsequently earning an FA Cup replay at Stamford Bridge.
Had Chelsea failed to rescue the game, the result would more than likely have led to calls for his resignation from fans, with the 52-year old having already confirmed he does not intend to stay beyond the end of the current season.
Nigeria international Mikel believes it’s time to see a change to the atmosphere at the Blues’ matches.
He was reported by the London Evening Standard as saying: “Sometimes it doesn’t help when the fans are not happy.
“When you give the ball away there is pressure. This is our job.
“Fans come to watch the football and we have a responsibility to pay them back and make sure we play well.
“Every game we try to do that, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
With Chelsea’s last chance for silverware taking the shape of the FA Cup trophy, Mikel and his team-mates will be more than aware of the pressure they are under to deliver.
Regardless, Mikel seems to have faith in the Chelsea supporters to stay with them.
He added: “I have been here for seven years and they [the fans] are fantastic and have always supported us until the end.
“I hope that continues throughout the season.
“Let’s hope this game will put us back on a good track and we keep going on from here to end the season very well.”