Nigerian legendary midfielder John Mikel Obi has opened up on Rafael Benitez’s struggles during his time as Chelsea manager.
The former Real Madrid gaffer was named Chelsea manager on an interim basis after Champions League winner Roberto di Matteo was sacked at the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
The Spanish manager led the Blues to the UEFA Europa League victory that season, but could not keep the job permanently.
During an interview with TalkSPORT, as cited by GOAL, the former Super Eagles midfielder claimed the fans and players never counted Benitez as one of their own since he already coached their rival, Liverpool.
“No, we were not. We made that clear. I think Liverpool was a big rival for us [Chelsea], but coming into the club as well, I think the fans also didn’t like Rafael Benitez,” he said.
“I think there was something about Rafa and the fans that the fans didn’t take to him. Same as the players, we didn’t accept him as one of us.”
“John Terry made the decisions.” 👀💪
“We weren’t having Rafa Benitez. We didn’t accept him as one of us. We made it clear.”
John Obi Mikel explains the sheer amount of power the players used to have at #CFC. 🔵
— Trusted E Money (@TrustedTrusted4) November 9, 2023
The former Chelsea midfielder also explained the role John Terry played in the manager’s sack as he was not playing regularly under his management.
“Then we had the thing with JT [John Terry] where JT got dropped, JT wasn’t playing as much as he wanted,” he added.
“Obviously, JT always played, and Rafa came in and was like ‘You’re not going to play every game’.
“Obviously, JT wanted an explanation, ‘why am I not played?’ and Rafa didn’t give him that. JT got together by himself and decided yeah, your time is gone!”
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Mikel hails Ancelotti’s man management
Sports Brief earlier reported on Mikel Obi naming Carlo Ancelotti as the best man-manager he had at Chelsea, having played under 11 different managers in London.
During the Italian’s reign at the Stamford Bridge outfit, the Nigerian enjoyed plenty of playing time as the Italian gave him enough time to exhibit his talent on the pitch.
The former Super Eagles captain explained that Ancelotti was a calm manager during his time with Chelsea, also describing him as a man who never shouted at players.