John Mikel Obi believes a fortnight’s break from competitive action will help the team recover from Friday night’s defeat to Atletico Madrid.
We were soundly beaten in Monaco by the Europa League champions, who were four goals to the good before Gary Cahill’s late consolation, but with an international break now to come Mikel is hoping it will be out of our collective system before our visit to QPR on September 15.
‘I think the break will help us, to get a rest and we can keep on working from there,’ the midfielder said. ‘It’s a kick in the backside and we have to take it, get our heads up and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
‘It is something we all can’t describe. We didn’t view it as a friendly game, we prepared like every game and went through the details. It was one of those games where after 20 minutes you are 2-0 down and chasing the game, but we have to go back and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Everyone loses games but not in the manner we did.’
Mikel felt the team did not defend well enough as a unit, and will have to focus more on this side of the game than the ‘fantasy football’ we have seen in the first three Barclays Premier League games.
‘These guys are good on the ball and at passing the ball around. We do the same but you need to be prepared and ready to defend, which we didn’t do very well,’ the Nigerian admitted.
‘Last year we were very compact and we fought for each other, defending together. This year we want to play fantasy football but sometimes it’s about putting in a shift and working hard together.
‘It’s the same job for everyone, it’s the same role for me keeping the balance, keeping the shape, and it’s a harder role this year.’
As Roberto Di Matteo has regularly said, changes and improvements to the playing style will be taken one step at a time, but Mikel’s words offer a timely reminder.