Is Jose Mourinho’s criticism of Eden Hazard’s work-rate justified?

Hazard Mourinho

During pre Norwich press conference, Mourinho was asked about Eden Hazard’s comments to BeIN Sports following Chelsea’s defeat to Atletico Madrid. Mourinho responded to it in typical Mourinho style as follows (video at the end of the post) :

There was nothing critical in what he said. When the comments come from a player like Eden it’s normal because he’s not the kind of player to sacrifice himself for the team. Normally you get these kind of comments from players like him, from players that can’t resolve a problem like we had in the first goal.

Eden is the kind of player that is not so mentally ready to look back to his left-back and to leave his life for him.  If you see the first goal of Atletico you completely understand where the mistake was and why we conceded that goal. The perfect team at the top level cannot make these kinds of mistakes.

While these appear to be a scathing attack on Eden Hazard at first look, it is nothing more than what Mourinho has been saying all season. He wants his attacking players to press the opposition full-backs, so that attacks don’t come in from the flanks and instead come from the centre, where Chelsea are rather strong.

It was visible in the game that Hazard didn’t do enough to track Juanfran, leading to the Atletico fullback being directly responsible in creating his side’s first and third goals. It could be attributed to the fact that Hazard was just returning from an injury that he was so rusty when it came to covering his left-back.

Mourinho is right when he feels that Schurrle or Willian possess the work rate that allows them to double up on the opposition winger. But Hazard has already made massive strides in that department. He was disinterested in defending till last season but this season he has shown his defensive capability in spurts. All this only leads us to believe that he would only get better in that regard and conform to Mourinho’s style.

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