Sunday 24 September 2017

Jose Mourinho hits back as Eden Hazard and blames him for opening Atletico goal

Chelsea's Eden Hazard reacts at the end of their Champions League semi-final second leg soccer match against Atletico
Chelsea's Eden Hazard reacts at the end of their Champions League semi-final second leg soccer match against Atletico

Jeremy Wilson

Jose Mourinho has accused Eden Hazard of being unable to sacrifice himself for the team and squarely blamed the Belgium winger for Atletico Madrid’s crucial first goal in Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final defeat.

Hazard was quoted on French television after the 3-1 defeat as saying that Chelsea “are not made to play football, we are good on the counter-attack”. He also added: “Often, I'm asked to do it all by myself and it's not easy."

Mourinho has listened back to the transcript of the interview and, although he is adamant that he did not take the comments to be a criticism of his managerial style, he delivered a blunt appraisal of Hazard’s performance. Pointedly, Mourinho also stressed that Hazard’s comments “were normal from players like him”.

“He's not the kind of player ready to sacrifice himself 100 per cent for the team and his mates," said Mourinho. "Normally you get this kind of comment from players like him: from players who can't resolve a problem like we had with the first goal.

“Against Atletico in Madrid, Willian played on the left side and Ashley Cole was protected all game. Against Liverpool, Andre Schurrle played on the left and a dangerous player like Glen Johnson was completely under control. Eden is the kind of player who is not so mentally ready to look back at his left-back and live his life for him. If you see Atletico's first goal, you understand where the mistake was and why we conceded that goal.

“I just say the perfect team at the top level cannot make this kind of mistake. Normally, in this game, if you go to half-time winning 1-0, the game is another game. Atletico have to chase the game and we, with stability, have conditions for more. When the comments come from a player like Eden, it's normal.”

Mourinho said that he had spoken “all season” to Hazard in an effort to improve all aspects of his game and his preference for Cesar Azpilicueta over Ashley Cole at left-back has clearly been influenced by his reservations about the 23-year-old's team play. Hazard was also dropped for one game earlier in the season by Mourinho for missing a training session after he lost his passport and arrived back late from a trip to Belgium.

The PFA young player of the year is the subject of intense interest from Paris St Germain but Mourinho is adamant that he was not offended by the former Lille playmaker's remarks about Chelsea’s style.

“I listen to the interview,” said Mourinho. “The words are completely different than some media were bringing. The context is completely transformed. The media was reporting he was being critical, but there was nothing critical in what he said. It's the same type of words he said in relation to the Belgium side a few weeks ago. There is nothing there.”

Mourinho also remains sure that Manchester City or Liverpool will now win the Premier League but, at the end of what would be his first full season in management without a trophy, there was an impassioned and detailed defence of his own record.

“I'm going to tell you something, a bit of the history of my career,” said Mourinho. “My career reached, against Inter, the maximum you can reach when you win everything. In 2010 I won everything. After that, this is the history of my career. In the first season (with Real Madrid] I won the cup against the best team in the world [Barcelona] and finished second in the league after the best team in the world. And I lost the Champions League semi-final against the best team in the world.

“The next season I was league champion against the best team in the world, the champions of the records – 100 points, 126 goals, the record team – and we won that league. We lost the Champions League semi-final on penalties in a day when two of the best penalty takers in football missed. Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. And that was a 'bad' season.

“In the third season we won every match against the best team in the world, in the league, the Super Cup, the Cup, at the Bernabeu. We lost the league, finished second. And we lost the Champions League semi-final by one goal. And the fourth season, which is this one, and probably the first where I don't win a single trophy, I go to the Champions League semi-final and fight for the title until the last season. So these are the four bad seasons of my career.”

Asked where it all went wrong, he added: “It went wrong by going year after year like nobody else did. You arrive at a level where finishing second is not good, losing a semi-final is not good. So I'm proud of that. Proudly guilty of that.”

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