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Jose Mourinho Right to Take Hard Line with Eden Hazard...and Right to Move on

NORWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Manager Jose Mourinho of Chelsea speaks to Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Chelsea at Carrow Road on October 6, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2013

Chelsea ran out 3-0 winners over Schalke 04 in the Champions League Wednesday, but the match wasn't entirely a one-way affair, with the German side coming close several times before the home team closed out the game.

While the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba got themselves on the scoresheet, much of the postgame chatter was on an attacker who did not feature in the game at all, Belgian forward Eden Hazard.

Jose Mourinho confirmed, as per BBC Sport, that Hazard was punished for being late for training and, as such, missed the Champions League game.

 

Hazardous Timekeeping

Mourinho's comments left little doubt about why the Belgian attacker was out of the side:

"I don't want to lie. He's not injured. He forgot the time. He's a kid, kids make mistakes and fathers have to be clever in the way they educate their sons."

As per Wally Downes Jr. in the Telegraph, it wasn't the first time that Hazard had seen a manager criticise him for missing key training sessions, as former Belgium boss Georges Leekens also had a run-in with the winger over the same issue.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 14:  Eden Hazard of Belgium moves away from Dimitri Payet during the International friendly match between Belgium and France at the King Baudouin Stadium on August 14, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Ima
David Rogers/Getty Images

On this occasion, it seems Hazard missed a training session to do with the match against Schalke, which his boss may have perceived as a lack of professional interest in ensuring he did everything possible to help the team win.

 

Why Mourinho was Right to Omit Hazard

Football is a fantastic profession to be involved in—and an extremely rewarding one at the top end of the game. From time to time, then, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a player or two forget that they are still employees, just like in any other profession, and are expected to adhere to rules and standards.

When Mourinho's team meeting was missed by Hazard, it is right that as his manager he showed authority and decisiveness to deal with the situation.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho watches on during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James' Park on November 02, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Mark Runn
Getty Images/Getty Images

For starters, Mourinho's teams are always built around unity, togetherness and a team mentality, so letting one player get away with more than others would provide a clear indication that not all players were equal and that a culture of tolerance existed toward certain individuals.

In the long run, Mourinho will hope that showing a tough attitude toward his player will improve his attitude and the importance he attaches to all aspects of training. 

 

Closed Chapter, Moving On

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea (R) and Kevin Theophile-Catherine of Cardiff battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on October 19, 2013 in London, England.  (P
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It's not just in making the point and leaving Hazard out of the side against Schalke where Mourinho was right but also in highlighting that the issue was now been dealt with and is finished.

Good man management is displayed here again by the Chelsea boss, who is renowned for looking after his players as long as they commit everything to him and the team. This further ensures that the media need not go looking for reasons as to any possible future omission for Hazard or try to link it back to this one moment of forgetfulness.

Mouinho summed up the whole incident, via the Downes Jr. article:

He’s sad because he wanted to play. We won without him and Saturday he’s back. End of story. Let’s forget Eden because I didn’t select him and on Saturday he will be with the team. We know his talent, he will be on the bench or playing, but he will be in the squad for sure.

Mourinho's quotes in the Telegraph article clearly state that the punishment already meted out has now been served and Hazard need fear no further retribution on account of his misdemeanour. Assuming he trains properly between now and the weekend, it would be no surprise to see Hazard back in the starting XI against West Brom.

And should he do so, and have a game-winning impact for his team, it will be another minor point to score for Mourinho and his technique of handling his squad.

 

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