MIKEL: STEPPING IT UP

Posted on: Mon 16 Jul 2012

It was a day of two halves as far as training was concerned according to John Mikel Obi after the first double session in the United States.

Sunday was the first full day since travelling so required a balance between acclimatisation, recovery and working towards the right condition to face Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night, in what will be the first game since the Champions League Final.

It was six o'clock in the evening when the second training session began, there having been a lengthy interval for lunch and rest since morning training had concluded at midday. As well as normal recuperation from exercise, body clocks are realigning too.

'On Saturday when we arrived we went to the hotel and everyone was tired,' reports Mikel.

'We had a quiet night, had dinner and then went to bed but we tried not to sleep too early, just to fit into the time in Seattle. I slept from about eight o'clock to 4am and then I couldn't sleep anymore, but we are trying to fit into it.

'This morning was just about getting the legs working again, and loosening up the muscles,' he adds, 'and this evening it was intense training to pick it up again from where we left off in London. That was more like a Cobham training session, to pick it up for Wednesday.'

By the time of the game, any after effects from travelling will be long gone and Mikel should be more ready for action than the last time he visited Seattle three years ago. In the summer of 2009 there was an unusual group of qualification matches in Africa for the World Cup a year later. They kept the players involved busy throughout June.

For our Nigerian midfielder it meant a late start to Chelsea pre-season training and consequently he and our other Africans at the time were not considered for a start against the Sounders in a game that ended as a 2-0 win.

'I remember I only played about the last 20 minutes and I also remember it was a lot hotter than now, but the weather is playing into our favour, this weather will help us with what we want to do here, and hopefully this time as well we are going to have a good game.'

With a full pre-season under his belt, hopes will be high that Mikel can resume where he left in May, having played the closing weeks of the season at the peak of his form, not least in Munich where he was one of the outstanding performers on that marvellous night.

'I was very delighted with how the game went for me personally but overall it was a collective team performance and everyone helped me to play well,' he says.

'The whole team worked very hard, we knew we had almost touched it the last time we were in the final and this time we were so determined not to let it go. The performance was just amazing from everyone in the team, even the guys on the bench. The support that they gave to the players just kept lifting you up as you played extra time. It was something we all did well as a team to achieve.

'People still talk about that night everywhere we go but for us now we have done it and we want to build on it.

'We won't relax, we want to keep building and keep winning trophies. We have lost some players and hopefully the guys who come in will bring even more than the guys who have left, but the guys who have left did really well for this team and they will always be remembered.'