Football

Published: Friday May 2, 2014 MYT 9:37:02 PM
Updated: Friday May 2, 2014 MYT 9:37:53 PM

Hazard not ready to sacrifice himself for the team, says Mourinho

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho accused his midfielder Eden Hazard on Friday of "not sacrificing himself 100 per cent" for his team mates, two days after their Champions League semi-final exit.

Hazard, 23, Chelsea's principal playmaker following the sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United, appeared to risk his coach's wrath when he criticised Mourinho's tactics in their 3-1 semi-final second leg defeat by Atletico at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The Belgian international, the PFA's Young Player of the season, told French TV station beIN SPORTS that Chelsea "were not made to play football."

Mourinho, speaking to reporters before Chelsea meet Norwich City in their penultimate Premier League match of the season on Sunday, responded by seemingly questioning Hazard's commitment.

"The media was reporting that he was being critical, but there was nothing critical in what he says," Mourinho said.

"But Eden is a player who is not mentally ready to look back to his left back and leave his life for him.

"When the comments come from a player like Eden it's normal because he is not a player ready to sacrifice himself 100 per cent for the team and his team mates.

"The comments were not critical but I am not happy. I speak to him all season and I try to improve him all season."

CALF INJURY

Hazard, linked with a move to Paris St Germain, returned to the side on Wednesday after missing four matches due to a calf injury and did not have his usual impact.

"Chelsea are not made to play football, we are good on the counter-attack, a bit like Real Madrid against Bayern Munich," Hazard said after the match.

"Often, I am asked to do it all by myself and it's not easy."

Mourinho repeated his long-held belief that even though Chelsea are only two points behind leaders Liverpool with two matches to play, they are unlikely to win the title.

Liverpool have 80 points, Chelsea 78 and Manchester City, who have three matches left, are on 77 with a better goal difference and will almost certainly be champions if they collect all nine points.

NOT BAD

Mourinho reflected on Chelsea's campaign which now looks likely to end without a trophy.

"I don't think it's been a bad season," he said.

"It is a transitional season and to arrive where we have arrived is very good.

"Normally you compare to the season before and if you do that, Chelsea lost the title in November and when Manchester United won the title, Chelsea were something like 20 points behind.

"In the Champions League Chelsea were the first team knocked out in the group stage after being champions. It was a big step (this season) being able to fight for the title and the Champions League.

"The players come back like they have to. Obviously not champions but the feeling is that they had a good campaign.

Chelsea have the best defensive record in the Premier League having conceded only 28 goals all season and face Norwich, who are 18th and have only scored 26 times, the joint-lowest in the league.

They look likely to go down after three seasons in the top flight but Mourinho will not be taking them lightly.

"They will be fighting for their lives and we respect them," he said.

"It will not be easy but we have to finish with two wins against them and Cardiff in the last match. Two teams fighting for their lives.

"Imagine if we are not champions if we don't win these two matches against two teams desperate for the points against us. That would not be a good feeling for the players."

(Reporting by Mike Collett)

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