January 31, 2023

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel admits lack of fitness helped wreck title-defending season that cost Jose Mourinho his job

October 12, 2016

Anchorman claims Antonio Conte’s new training system – including gruelling double sessions – will get them back to winning ways

CHELSEA midfielder John Obi Mikel has admitted the Blues were not fit enough to defend their Premier League title under Jose Mourinho last season.

The Stamford Bridge club cruised to the 2014-15 title and quickly jetted off on energy-sapping tours of Thailand and Australia to cash-in on their new crown. And they used their 2015-16 pre-season on a money-making tour of America, with just four warm-up fixtures, before they lost the Community Shield to Arsenal.

Jose Mourinho’s men looked spark out once the season got going and they limped to a 10th-place finish, even after Guus Hiddink came in to replace the Portuguese in December.

Mikel has not played a single second of competitive football for Antonio Conte’s side this season. But he is absolutely sure last season’s lack of fitness contributed to their miserable campaign and that the new system of double sessions will help turn things around.

He told Goal.com: “Yes, I think it (not being fit enough) played a part last season.

Speaking about the introduction of double shifts, he added: “That’s the way he wants to train, that’s his style, that’s his way that he thinks we can win and that he thinks can get Chelsea back to where they belong.

“Obviously, quite a lot was made last year that a lot of the players were not fit, so the club decided to go for someone to make sure we are fit.

“The players have responded very well to him, we are going with whatever the manager wants to do in training, everyone is putting in their best and we have to keep going his way.

“We have to make sure we keep doing whatever the manager wants to do and if we can improve the team that way then I think everybody is on board with that.

“I have never run as much, in any pre-season ever, as I ran and I think that is going to play a massive part. It is only going to help us through the season.

“I think when teams are getting tired, we are still going to be fit and that is only going to help and I think that is one of the major differences I can see.

“I don’t want to look at the games, but in the training and the philosophy is quite different and, I think, he knows what he wants and if we can do that I think we are going to be successful.”

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