John Obi Mikel praises impact of Chelsea interim-manager Rafael Benitez
Chelsea came from two goals down to draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford
Tuesday 12 March 2013
John Obi Mikel has praised manager Rafael Benitez for turning Chelsea's fortunes around in the FA Cup clash at Manchester United.
When United went 2-0 ahead after 11 minutes, the holders were facing quarter-final elimination and many wondered if Benitez's spell in interim charge would come to a premature end as a result of a heavy defeat to an old rival.
The influence of senior players has been a recurring theme in the Chelsea squad in recent seasons as managers have continually moved on, but it was Benitez who took the opportunity at the interval to rectify the faults of the first half.
And the Blues responded with second-half goals from substitute Eden Hazard and Ramires to force a replay.
"It wasn't anything the players had to say," said Mikel, who was influential after coming off the bench.
"It was the manager. The manager just said we had to go back out there and put things right.
"There was no anger, there was nothing like that. We just had a normal chat. It was about finding the determination - and we found it from nowhere."
The replay date is still to be determined as the Blues face a congested finish to the season.
Mikel hopes the draw at Old Trafford will provide the impetus for a strong end to a campaign which began with Chelsea in contention for seven trophies.
Just the FA Cup and the Europa League - the unexpected eighth - remain, with Chelsea in action in the last-16 second leg with Steaua Bucharest on Thursday, needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit to advance.
"Let's hope that this is the performance that puts us back in a good light, that we can keep going from here and end the season well," Mikel said.
"This is a crucial time in the season and we have to start putting in good performances."
Mikel knows the Blues face a stern test to keep their FA Cup defence on track and set up a semi-final with Manchester City.
He said: "The tie is not over. You can never write off Manchester United.
"We have to go back to Stamford Bridge and make sure we put the tie away."
Latest in Sport
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...
World Cup 2014: Neymar's agent launches scathing attack on Brazil's Luis Felipe Scolari, labelling him 'an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous'
Loic Remy to Arsenal? Gunners close in on move for QPR and France striker - reports
World Cup 2014: The 50 best players of the World Cup
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories