Mikel: Life at Blues is crazy
Fri, 10 May 2013 07:00:00
John Obi Mikel hopes Wednesday's final in Amsterdam is his last Europa League appearance for what he has deemed a "crazy" time season Chelsea.
Chelsea finished last season with an interim manager and won the FA Cup and Champions League; 12 months on, history could repeat itself somewhat as Rafael Benitez bids to lead the Blues to Europa League glory ahead of Benfica and a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Benitez will leave at the end of the season, when his current short-term deal expires, with Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho the leading contender to replace him as Roberto Di Matteo's permanent successor.
"The club is crazy, it is," Mikel said. "But we have to keep doing our job. We're players.
"The board, the owners, make the decision and we have to stick by whoever comes in.
"I don't know what's happening. It seems another manager is going to come in."
What Mikel does hope is that, whoever the new manager is, Chelsea are vying for the Champions League title once more in 2014, and not the Europa League trophy.
"If we are the in the same final next year, I won't be happy," he said.
"The aim of this squad is to play in the Champions League."
Mourinho - anticipated to return almost six years after his first spell came to an end - would be far from satisfied with a place in the second-tier competition.
Asked specifically about the Portuguese, the man who brought Mikel to Stamford Bridge from Lyn Oslo, the Nigeria midfielder said: "Mourinho is a fantastic guy. He's a great guy. He's a fantastic human being, on and off the pitch."
Mikel believes the self-titled 'Special One' has the ability to extract the best from players.
"He knows how to motivate players, how to get the best out of players," the 26-year-old added.
"If you work with him, from the first day he tells you what he wants from you. That's exactly how it's going to be.
"What he wants from you is what you have to give and this is something that he's managed to do well and if he's the one that's coming in it's going to be a massive, massive plus for us.
"Mourinho doesn't let you relax. He doesn't let you sit back and say 'I'm there now'. He wants to push you to your limits.
"That's what he works hard on with the players. But what a fantastic guy he is, outside and inside the football pitch."
Mikel last featured against Liverpool and has missed the last five matches due to a hip problem.
But he is now fully recovered and targeting a place in Wednesday's Amsterdam final.
Saturday's Premier League contest with Aston Villa is also crucial as Chelsea seek a Champions League place - something Mikel craves after playing Thursday night football this term, so soon after that memorable night in Munich.
"I want to play in the final and that's what I intend to do," added Mikel, who played a key role in nullifying the threats of Bayern Munich in the European Cup win.
"From the start the manager [Benitez] has made his stand - he wants to rotate the team. He's done that.
"Sometimes it's worked out, sometimes it hasn't, but that's football.
"I want to get ready for the final. That's why I'm here, to play big games, and hopefully by the final I'll be feeling ready.
"We've come this far, we're in the final, and we want to win it. "But you can't compare the Champions League final with the Europa League final."