Chelsea - The Curious Case of Hazard
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The Curious Case of Hazard

Young, skillful, often swashbuckling, always amiable and probably ambitious but sometimes inconsistent and looked rather disinterested most of the time in Brazil; why did Eden flop so spectacularly at the FIFA World Cup?

Maybe it was the tropical weather? Too hot to hand him enough warmth to shine and dazzle, if not bamboozle and blitz unsuspecting defenders as usual?
Maybe one can blame his off-colour performance on the colourfully noisy Brazilian fans who have so far made each of the 61 Match Days such a beautiful carnival of football-drunk nations and festival of the beautiful game - lively crowds who could have constituted a distraction?
Perhaps it was the team chemistry glaringly lacking within the Belgium squad or dearth of a distinct style and system of play [un]employed by coach Marc Wilmots?

Just what hit Eden?
Surely there was no Jose Mourinho somewhere in the crowd with a remote control trying to stop, shackle or 'malcoach' him from playing football... at least from what I'd been watching on TV anyway.

Whatever it was though, one thing is undebatable - Eden Hazard had a World Cup to forget, at least by his high standards.

It's forlorn to try to defend the indefensible; there's no need for that, no, there's none as that would be one futile exercise too futile to try. The Chelsea Player of the Year and England PFA Young Player of the Year 2014, KOed at the quarter final stage by Lionel Messi's Argentina was supposed to be the Belgium so-called 'golden generation' poster boy and one of the stars of the show, and while it can be argued World Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo was the highest profile flop in town, it must not be swept under the carpet that Eden Hazard's dismally poor output of zero goal and two assists in his debut World Cup was the poorest return of all participants with his kind of reputation; even the much maligned Oscar has so far got a goal and three assists, and counting.

Inasmuch as the general indictment is that all 6 Belgium goals at the World Cup always came uncomfortably too late in a match, precisely usually after the 70th minute mark, the new Chelsea no.10 - if he ever introspects - has got to be personally embarrassed and mad at himself for what he's done or failed to do to lift his country on his back like the other no.10 and 6-goal hero, who singlehandedly scored as many goals as the entire Belgium national team, James Rodriguez did for Columbia. If not then something is seriously amiss, and that's just not good enough; not for him, not for his confidence, not for this writer's comfort and certainly not for Chelsea's ambitions.

The jury is still out back in England, and I'm sure Eden knows just how unpatronizing they can be; as a Chelsea player he must know the drill though.Besides, with the Twitter meltdown and public outcry following his substitution which marked the end of his abysmal 'campaign' in Brazil, he's simply got to buckle up and get back to form, especially now that the summer transfer window is well and truly wide open.

I'm not sure if it is such a great idea to allow Tottenham grab Memphis Depay or Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez - two guys I see as more athletic and quicker versions of Eden - one sure thing I learnt from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ is that our lauded POTY and England PFA YPOTY is far from the player we all want him to be or think he is, and that he needs serious support as well as competition back at Chelsea Football Club.

What did you make of Hazard's showing in Brazil?

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Josh_Mou  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday July 7 2014

Time: 7:38AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
He is still such a young guy...dont rate him after his first world cup! He had a great season with us...and will have a great season.....yes he is far away from his best...but he will be ready after his well deserved holiday!
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07/07/2014 07:55:00

he is not young anymore at 23, Messi was already a ballon dor winner at his age, though hazard is hazard and Messi is Messi, what I noticed about him during the world cup is that he is too restricted, he sticks too much on the LW, and he is not adventurous enough to take the team on his shoulders like neymar and Rodriguez, his finishing is still poor compared to the duo, I believe hazard would be more dangerous behind the striker or in a free role rather than being limited at LW.
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07/07/2014 08:11:00

another thing I noticed was that he is usually isolated at LW, hardly gets supported by the Belgian LB when going forward. he tracks back too much and also needs to express himself fearlessly as he was doing under di Matteo and benitez
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07/07/2014 08:13:00

How was lionel messi's performance in world cup 2010?
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07/07/2014 08:14:00

a player is only as good as his team is ... not even messi or ronaldo could motivate that disjointed belgium unit ...and disgusting long ball tactics for the whole game ruined the co ordination between them n no diff strategy
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07/07/2014 08:21:00

Desmondadonis, One thing Hazard does not do is track back too much. It is the weakest part of his game. Hazard is a good footballer but he thinks he is a superstar. He is too lazy on the pitch and too lazy in training. Hazard should be terrorizing defenses the way Robben does.
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07/07/2014 08:43:00

one thing is at this stage and with the rate he is going, he will never be as good as messi, the highest i think he can get to at this rate is that he will be as good as robben..hazard doesnt improve a 2years that he has spent at chelsea, he has improved just a little and it was that same period marco reus has developed fast into a star player from moving from monglegabach to dortmund..... if hazard contunues to improve at this slow rate, he will only get to robben's height and not ronaldo/messi's .
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07/07/2014 08:59:00

@hazard11 he will be a great player surely if he plays under mourinho with his heads down n work for the team ... tracking back is not a big issue for now since they can improve it with time like oscar excellent at tracking back but no but not as offensive as hazard though both have very good future ahead of them if they play with an open mind
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07/07/2014 09:10:00

I am actually a bit tired of this tracking back proposition. Oscar tracks back so much there is nothing attacking about him as a midfielder anymore. I hope that doesn't become the case with Hazard. At least when people said Arjen Robben's was lazy, his attacking game was so dangerous. Eden hazard on the other hand, hate to say it, hasn't improved much since Lille. The same flaws still exist in his game and some of those unattractive intangibles still exist. But I do agree with Hazard11. Not just Reus, but Ramsey, Bale, Kroos, Sanchez, and my lord, even Raheem Sterling have seen significant growth in their game. If Hazard doesn't register such growth in his game this season, then all the Messi/Ronaldo and Ballon D'or talk should be shoved in the dustbin in London.
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07/07/2014 09:22:00

Hazard inconsistency has always been the problem I've always had with him.... At the rate of his slow improvement like Hazard11 said, even DiMaria would have a better shot at the Ballon d'or than him.....
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07/07/2014 10:12:00

Hazard needs to learn to accept responsibilities & step up to the game..... The way Robben has being carrying Netherlands throughout this world cup is impressive or Bale at madrid in Ronaldo's absence or Reus at Dortmund etc, Hazard needs to start showing the drive/desire/goal/intensity of these players...
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07/07/2014 10:16:00

Look on the bright side. You signed a player who played well in the Prem last season followed by a poor World Cup. Got to be better than signing a player who has had a good World Cup, but then bombs in the Prem.
Cider spurs
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07/07/2014 10:32:00

Spot on Josh Mou.... put into writing a thought that has been bugging my mind since the first belgium game.. I am seriously worried about Hazard especially if we are allowing players like Markovic, Sanchez and Depay even Rodriguez to move to other teams unchallenged. What Hazard deperately needs now in chelsea are playes that can take the burden of creativity off him. teams will continuously get wiser and this season won't be any different. Hazard was closed down very quickly, double marked and triple marked out of the games which on the upside allowed Dries Merten huge space to perform. had his contribution been more on the spot. belgium would still be in the competion. honestly we should not allowed Sanchez to go to Arsenal or Liverpool without giving it a go. This is the kind of player that can take pressure of Hazard as defenders would be forced to track his livewire movements and allow hazard some breathing space. except we are still in for Lavezzi, neither willian or Oscar or Schrulle can be relied upon for the kind of creativity that can open up suddenly space or a one touch dribble that would make something out of the ordinary happen into which hazard can pounce on. Also as a matter of importance is getting a LB that is very good in attacking transitions and crossing. I don't believe the experiment of hazard as a 10 would work for long. he likes to drift to the wings and the suuport of a very good LB would be crucial to overloading the wings.
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07/07/2014 10:54:00

the only player with the livewire, quick turn movements that we have in our books right now is Salah... He is very quick, with turns and twist and always look for a one two pass ( a throwback to his days in Swiss league) but his final ball/decision lets him down. Lets face facts.. Sanchez is currently the closest thing available to Suarez at the moment, sudden movements, acceleration and all and we would be mugs if we are willing to pay 30+ millions for Fabregas but pass off a quality striker/WF who would offer us something totally different to Diego or Lukaku.
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07/07/2014 10:59:00

So, now all of a sudden, everybody wants sanchez and we already don't have place for Schrulle, Willian & Salah (All Jose Buys). And one simple thing, you can't buy every player, your opposition wants. I guess, Both Jose & Emenalo are smart and they know what they want or lack in our team. We will fix the gaps. Let other teams also fix their gaps. I am waiting for yet another roller coaster ride season
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07/07/2014 11:30:00

I wont agree that Hazard has not improved. He has improved, but not at the pace we thought. It may be due to our style of play. Jose insist on team work & tracking back. This is hampering player's attacking instincts. I guess, Hazard could do better if allowed to play in arsenal or even spurs.
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07/07/2014 11:32:00

I am looking forward to more of Salah this season. There will be no excuses for his misses this season.
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07/07/2014 11:33:00

Somepeople trying to compare hazard to messi? Messi was a balon d or winner at 23 so what? This (being his 3rd world cup) is the 1st worldcup that he is living up to expectation.. Plz cut hazard some slacks
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07/07/2014 11:50:00

Bayern Munich didn't get to all these Champions League Finals and semi-finals and win quadruples etc with Robben being lazy. If Chelsea are to win the Champions League again every player must give 100% effort. If Hazard had put in more effort against A. Madrid we might very well have played Real Madrid in the Final.
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07/07/2014 12:01:00

Blu_run's sentiments mirror mine as well. Hazard has improved but not at the pace many want. On the other issue, I think he meant he would have more freedom to attack if he played for those teams. If he is given that more freedom, his numbers would definitely increase. Bale truly became world class after AVB shifted him to the 10 position, Neymar's dissimilar performances for club & country is as a result of the level of freedom he gets. Messi is another example who started well on the wings & exploded when moved to the center (I still don't get if he is a 10 or a false 9). I don't understand why some of you are clamouring for Sanchez or Depay, is it that you don't expect improvement from the current set of AM's at Chelsea? A team doesn't improve by constantly changing, patience is also needed.
Louis Lancuv
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07/07/2014 12:11:00

all fair points guys, including that of the visiting Spuddie. But Cider you might want to note that Loius Van Gaal is no mug - obviously the reason he wouldn't come to your club in the first place - thus, the fact that he sees Depay as his goto guy whenever the Oranje were running into trouble or face a parked bus means the kid has something special about him. LVG is one of Mourinho's mentors, who was in turn AVB's mentor; Mourinho would do well liking what his mentor likes. Or perhaps you know all these, became threatened Chelsea might yet gazump another Spud deal and just thougt it wise to drop that comment, just in case? Pls don't crack me up bro ;-)
The Josh
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07/07/2014 12:27:00

Hazard must have the workrate of Ramires, the attacking prowess of Messi and the the defensive capabilities of Azpilicueta. Seems fair nevermind the disjointedness of our squad. I'm not saying that he has nothing to improve upon, but I'm not even sure if he should be aiming to be a Messi rather than a Ribery with what he has to work with.
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07/07/2014 12:54:00

I honestly think he is having problems being on the wing as he gets isolated at times and is not sure of what to do.
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07/07/2014 13:17:00

Teams are now so scared of hazard that they will double- or triple mark him when he is anywhere close to the ball. Trouble is Hazard hasn't learnt to deal with this attention yet, he can't beat 3 players every time. He does need help and he does need someone attuned to his play, someone who will read the little one-two's he likes to play. He hasn't been getting that, not at Chelsea and not in the national side. Hw was isolated a lot in the WC and, I don't know if anyone else noticed it, he was being by-passed a lot of the time, even when dropping into space. KDB and Mertens did it to him often. Seems odd, when he is the recognised spark maker, the player that can open up a defence. We get the same with Chelsea, Torres, Oscar, Willian and Schurrle do not seem to want to get involved with Hazard's intricate interplay, only Eto'o did.
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07/07/2014 13:57:00

Firstly, I think it serves Hazard right for saying that Chelsea's not made to play football. I think he had the illusion that his football is so world standard that he could utter words that put his club's football style to ridicule. Now he sees that to be a great footballer, you have to put in the work and be versatile enough to adapt to whatever style of football you find yourself, be it for club or country. Secondly, I think Hazard should change his style of play. Whenever he gets the ball, he feels he has to do some wizardry. Defenders and midfielders in the EPL and the whole world now know this. Hence his dismal performance in the World Cup. So sometimes a one touch pass would do, especially when there are free team mates. If he's unpredictable about when to dribble, when to hold on to the ball, when to give a defense-splitting pass and when to act like a decoy and drag away hapless unsuspecting defenders away from a team mate who is about to shoot, then Hazard would be on his way to becoming one of the best footballers the game has ever seen. And one last thing, He should shut up and listen to Mourinho's tutelage. Sorry if it sounds like a charade.
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07/07/2014 14:10:00

@ Blu run and Louis Lancuv.. everyone including the chelsea board were chasing Sanchez before he went to barcelonea to play with Messi. Sanchez is the kind of livewire striker i have been clamouring for for ages. you guys can check my old comments on this site to verify my claims. I have advocated on this site numerous times that i would rather see all our strikers sold and small, quick players bought for the team cos with the kind of attackers we have eternally slowing down the ball and playing intricate passes instead of direct true balls to our CFs. Strikers like sanchez can actually play as CAM and thus would link up with Hazard and co far better than a Demba Ba or Torres. Don't also forget that the guy has one of the best conversion goal conversion rates and his a hard worker off the ball. Depay on the other hand would be a far cheaper option than the current flavour of the month Pogba. he is quick, energetic and no slouch with a pass .that is my two coins on the matter.
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07/07/2014 14:17:00

I just don't think Belgium were set up for hazard to excel. Wilmots was clueless and was urging Hazard through the media to pick up his game. LOl!!
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07/07/2014 14:45:00

Hazard's problems come from attitude and not ability, in my opinion. He too often plays as if he expects to play well without exerting the commitment required. He's great in moments but he almost never sustains them. He disappears. His work ethic is sup-par and he'll never be great if doesn't sort it out.
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07/07/2014 14:48:00

As I have said when this WC began, this was the time for us to watch and take in the different scenes, tactics, players etc and enjoy.
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07/07/2014 14:55:00

In my opinion, Hazard's development has been hampered by the sale of Mata. He was developing and more incisive with Oscar and Mata were around. Both, Hazard and Oscar looks a bit lost when Willian tries to play the AM role. Hopefully Fabregas can help fill that void.
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07/07/2014 15:39:00

i dont even get our points. r we all expectin chelsea 2 buy all gud players on d planet? i tink we all av problems. we all were sayin we need little addition 2 made. ST,DLP,LB & we r gud 2 go. just bcos of wot happen at WC all our players r now crap.
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07/07/2014 17:54:00

jose is the root cause of haz and oscar failure...his crap system.of chasing ball like mad dogs...making your attacking player to play like dm and ignore your attacking strength and play defensive football has made player like oscar and haz toothless....if you put haz and oscar into a real madrid or barcelona team you will see a differnt haz and oscar...playing at chelsea under jose has stalled their progress and nothing simple
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07/07/2014 18:56:00

If Hazard is going to stay on the LW, he needs a LB that he can strike a partnership with. Azpi wasn't the one as he was under instruction from Jose to perform defensive duties first, rightly so, mainly because Hazard does not contribute enough to protect his LB. Herein lies a big problem with Hazard, and I must say from what I have seen, is the case with a fair few of the current Belgian squad, they play for themselves. Caught up in their own hype. If Hazard listens carefully to Jose, and gets the right partnering LB, he will become a much better player in the long run. What he isn't, quite plain to see, is a one-man Messi / CR7 team, and he maybe he is beginning to realise that.
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07/07/2014 18:57:00

What the WC has shown is that no player has the right to be a passenger or 'luxury', no matter how good you are. The players who have turned up to show only the occasional magic spark have actually not turned up. The players who have that spark, but also work their socks off for the team (Neymar, James Rodriguez & Sanchez) have been the highlights for me.
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07/07/2014 19:06:00

haz needs a good coach like carlo...who can use his strength to a greater extent....haz played his best football under rafa...because rafa made him played freely...under jose he is not enjoying it...player like haz and oscar should be used wisely....they should be allowed to use their strength i.e attacking strength too much overexpose of defensive work will hamper your attacking strength and botb of them are going through that...
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07/07/2014 19:07:00

Robben also.
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07/07/2014 19:08:00

I am hoping that Cesc is wily, clever and skilful enough to get the best out of Hazard. Hazard definitely misses Mata, they had a good understanding. Cesc can see the sort of passes, the one-two's that Hazard needs.
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07/07/2014 19:13:00

Now its Jose, Azpi, Cole and everyone else's problems that Hazard didn't do well for Belgium? Are you guys serious?
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07/07/2014 19:14:00

Good question nwannem nwoke Chuks
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07/07/2014 19:59:00

Hi guys! I think its been only syed's comment that has come close to what i feel about hazard. Hazard is good and has improved... i mean he just had a good season with us. The problem i feel is that he is not very in tune with wilmot the NT coach. Hazard should be the star of Belgium but i feel wilmots believe he has as many players who can do what hazard can offer hence neglect the need to make hazard feel like the star (which is quite different from what jose did with him at chelsea). It was when the games begin to matter more that wilmot realized he needed someone who could give him something out of the blue and resulted to try using the media to motivate hazard. You can also sense they are not in tune when wilmots said to the media that ''hazard is as good as messi and CR7' and the former smartly came out and rebuff the statement saying 'he still has alot of improvement to do before he reaches such heights'. I mean this is purely fm stuff (You know when your player doesn't really concur to what you said to the media and morale drops a little??)
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07/07/2014 20:12:00

@shlok, i think more than 'them to be used wisely' they need to be used to fulfil what will take the team as far as possible (in case, to maintain solidity and be compact; most especially as we don't seem to be scoring much) which was what jose did.
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07/07/2014 20:17:00

ONE WORD SHARED ON VC IF NOT CAREFUL HAVE A WAY OF BECOMING AN INSTANT NORM. It took just one person to start this talk about 'a solid left back will make hazard look good' and now it seems its been everybody's fault not working for hazard instead of the other way round. Need i share with you, whatever made hazard came out to criticise jose style against athletico means he was thinking about himself and himself only instead of digging it in and doing what his teammates are doing: working hard for each other. If you ever play the game so well, you would understand what it means to work for each other and not you running yourself to the ground only to turn around and see the person who happen to loose the ball upfront walking or perhaps standing to see what happens.
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07/07/2014 20:26:00

Well, for my part, I have suggested ways of helping Hazard, but he also has to recognise his own limitations currently, help himself and work even harder to resolve them, if he to reach even close to Ballon D'Or. At the end of the day, it's not down to me, but down to hazard himself, but he had better listen to good coaching as Jose has tried to give him. That includes boosting his confidence whilst telling him what he needs to do.
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07/07/2014 20:40:00

If you ask me,I'm not sure it's been all doom and gloom as some make it to seem. Yes by his standards he didn't have a good WC,with only two assists and not more than 5 shots on goal in the whole tournament. But I think it's a bit mismanaged thought if we compare him to Messi and Robben. At 22 Messi,during the WC at South Africa,had a stellar season at Barca but still flopped in the WC. It's only this WC that Messi has come close to living up to the expectations expected of him. At 23,can we really remmeber what Robben played like? So,like bismarck noted ,yes,he needs to polish his game more and be like you all say he needs to be more consistent too. But I think it all comes to personal desire. If Hazard desires to be the best in the world,I believe he can,with his potential and abilities. He used to talk about only wanting to enjoy himself on the pitch,but now he's growing more aware of the expectations on him. So with time,I guess he will imbibe that desire,and if there's anyone who can help him at it it's Jose. But we Chelsea fans need to learn paitience. It must not always go so smoothly ,our own way
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07/07/2014 23:51:00

Am optimistic that we'll see the best Hazard yet this coming season. With his new contract,his new shirt number,and the new players coming in,more pressure would more or less be lifted from him.A good striker like Costa;one or two creative players like Fabregas,or/and Kroos or Pogba ,anyone at all;a good LB,like Luis,who attacks well to support Eden and also defends well to take pressure of him. All these would go a long way to realeasing the best from him. So let's wait and watch him this season. This could be his turning point. Those Eden's quotes about Chelsea's style of play were downplayed by Jose himself,so let's not exagerate them ourselves.Also Eden has repeatedly reaffirmed that he would play to Jose's instructions and work harder,so let's give him some time.
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08/07/2014 00:01:00

A star should not be one because some coach says so and creates a 'lab' environment for them to prosper. All the great players have had to come out and overcome adversity while proving they can use their talent for the benefit of the team. Most on here say our team should have KDB, Lukaku, Witsel to play alongside Eden. Well he got that chance and it didnt work. Chelsea should not be a laboratory for us to create stars. We need to learn from our mistakes and move on. Sometimes it works sometimes if doesnt. Isco is now on the bench because he failed to dislodge Di Maria. Ozil was tge star of the last WC and he got dislodged by Bale. What happened to Eden is not new....its what some guys warned us about him from his time in France. That he blows hot and cold primarily due to being lazy. It happened under 3 different coaches at Chelsea and now happened elsewhere.The only difference is we had the opportunity to see it in a different setting. Its France, under 3 coaches at Chelsea and with the Belgian team. Same different blowing hot and cold. We cant keep blaming everyone and everything else...he is a guy known for being lazy.
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08/07/2014 00:10:00

My point is we have to make making excuses for these players otherwise they will never improve knowing we will let them off the hook.
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08/07/2014 02:44:00

No letting him off the hook, he has to be better, for himself and for the team. His apparent laziness may, in fact, be something to do with his physiology, he is not an athlete like, say, Ramires, you will often see him puffing and blowing after one of his mazy runs. He doesn't strike me as someone who can run up and down the left wing all day, and that may well be his a achilles heel, why he doesn't support his LB like he should. He obviously has fantastic balance and poise being quite stocky and small, but similar to Messi, you won't see him run the length of the pitch over and over, they save their sprints for when it matters. I am not making an excuse for him, if it's a lack of fitness, then he had better get himself doing extra training, but if he is at his limit, then Jose and his team will have to find a way of accommodating that. This could also explain why he flopped in the heat of Brazil. There are other areas of his game that can be improved greatly, like playing it simple sometimes, rather than over-elaborating, like using his prowess to pull defenders away, knowing he is not going to receive but rather making space for a team-mate. But the manager also has to bring support to him, players of a like mind and attuned to his play, otherwise he will always be a loner that gives you maybe one class play per game on average, when he should be doing 5 or 10 times that each match.
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08/07/2014 07:05:00

I would like to re-examine the footage of the Sunderland game, when Poyet said he was unplayable. Can't remember, but was he subbed. At full pelt, Hazard might be one of those players that can only last 60/70 minutes.
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08/07/2014 07:16:00

He may have a small tank! A city mini rather than a GT grand tourer LOL!
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08/07/2014 07:20:00

Messi's performance at the world cup in 2010 was good, if you understand that he plays as a playmaker for Argentina.
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08/07/2014 11:33:00

@mcquinn, meaning depay is better than hazard? well let's see what the top clubs think about that by the end of the transfer window.
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08/07/2014 13:20:00

Hazard has magic, what he doesn't seem to have is stamina or commitment
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08/07/2014 13:43:00

He will come good in future but may be Thorgan would have done a better job
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09/07/2014 12:49:00


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