Mikel ready to fill void
Nigeria ace targets regular role
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: July 25, 2008 3:58pm
Mikel: Still learning
John Obi Mikel is confident that he can step into the boots of Claude Makelele at Chelsea.
The Blues parted company with the veteran holding midfielder last week, allowing the Frenchman to join Paris Saint Germain.
That means Nigeria international Mikel could be given the opportunity to stake a claim for the vacant position in the middle of the park.
He has deputised for Makelele in the past, but is looking forward to the prospect of securing a regular role in the side under new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
"I played that role sometimes last season and hopefully I'll have a long run in the team now," said Mikel.
"It's something I've wanted - a run in the team - and I suppose Claude's departure has opened up that door for me, but I was playing in that role when I was in the team last season too.
"I was in and out of the team last season, but when I was given a chance under (former manager Jose) Mourinho before, I actually did okay in that holding role. I think I did very well under Mourinho and was playing regularly.
"Of course, when a new manager comes in everyone has to start afresh and roll up their sleeves. In Avram Grant's time I was in and out of the side, and that was a bit frustrating, but it's what happens in football.
"This time, under the new boss, I will try to make it my position in the team each week."
Mikel has been impressed by the impact Scolari has made at Stamford Bridge during his short time in charge and believes the Brazilian will have a positive affect on the Blues' performance next term.
"I'm loving playing under the new manager, even if it's largely been in training so far, but we'll see what happens when the season proper starts. We'll see how it goes," he said.
"I think he's a good man. From what I've seen, he's got a good character and speaks to his players regularly, asking how we feel and, if we have a problem, how he can help us in any way. He's impressive.
"Overall I think he's a good manager, bringing a lot of good things into the team. Obviously, he's already shown that he wants us to play a lot of different systems and formations. We've been used to 4-3-3 in recent seasons and hopefully, at times, we'll still play that way.
"But the manager is versatile and has shown he wants us to be able to adapt as well. We're all looking forward to playing under him."