"He was the manager who brought me to Chelsea and to the Premier League - he helped me a lot to develop as a player, so it has been difficult.
"But it's been a difficult few weeks for the team. We have to back our new manager, though, and go out and win games - for him, for us and for the fans."
Essien remains confident they can turn it around and mount a title challenge.
"Of course we can. We have the players and the team to do it, but we also know how hard it will be," he added.