London: Having left Eden Hazard on the bench during the English Premier League (EPL) clash against Aston Villa, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho asserted that the Belgian winger will struggle for playing time unless he works harder on the pitch.
Chelsea won 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening to register their first victory in four matches as striker Diego Costa returned from suspension to score the opening goal. But Hazard, who was voted the player of the year for 2014, was conspicous by his absence from the starting XI. Mourinho picked teenager Ruben Loftus-Cheek in his midfield but replaced him with Nemanja Matic at half-time. The Chelsea manager said after the match that Hazard will have to work harder on helping out the defence if he wants to regain his spot.
“I left out Hazard because we were conceding lots of goals. We needed to defend better. We need our midfielders to be just as worried in the central area of the pitch, not worrying about compensation on the left or right,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by Skysports. “It was a tactical decision. Leaving super quality on the bench, but bringing tactical discipline and hoping the team could be solid,” he added. “When you don’t have the ball, quality means nothing and what means (thumps chest)… you have or you don’t have.”
“I wanted more solidity. He’s fantastic with his vision and the decisions he makes on the pitch. But without the ball you cannot compare him, tactically, with the others.” Mourinho picked out wingers Pedro and Willian for special praise and urged Hazard to emulate their work rate. Willian troubled the Villa defence with his runs down the flank and had a hand in the opening goal as he essayed a clinical pass across the opponent penalty area which Costa converted with a simple tap in.
“Pedro and Willian did amazing work today and allowed the midfielders to be very comfortable and have Ramires and Fabregas controlling totally the centre of the pitch,” the 52-year-old Portuguese said. “And I will continue that way until he (Hazard) comes in our direction and tries to emulate the same work that Willian and Pedro put in.”