John Obi Mikel's never been one to sugarcoat his words needlessly. We might still remember him calling the Europa League a competition below the stature of a club like Chelsea, for example. Mikel also appears to be a pretty big fan of Guus Hiddink, speaking very highly of the interim manager since day 1. It was perhaps the combination of these two factors that led him to drop such a juicy quotable in yesterday's interview that was making the media rounds.
"We've moved on and the atmosphere has improved since the change of manager..."
But looking at the full (?) quote as carried by Sky Sports, it's fairly clear that Mikel was talking about the atmosphere in the dressing room improving largely as a consequence of three matches unbeaten, rather than something personally directed at Mourinho.
"We're down there in the table for a reason so [Hiddink] can't come in and perform miracles, but we want to get out of there. We've had three games now without losing so are making the right steps."
"I've been as confused as everyone else. It's difficult when you're not playing, as you don't really know what the problems are. It was a collective thing - the players and the manager were not performing. We've moved on from that and the atmosphere has improved since the change of manager. It's fine now, we've just not been getting results."
"Jose is a fantastic manager and will always be a fantastic guy. But sometimes football is a cruel game and you have to move on. Is it the right decision? Who knows? We'll only see in the future."
-John Obi Mikel; source: Sky
Mikel thus joins the growing positive movement at the club, looking for signs of life in the wasteland of this season.