What Mourinho and Hazard's relationship at Chelsea was really like

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The duo's relationship is peppered with small rows and disagreements but there also remains a respect between the two

"Palpable discord", was the famous description by former Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo of the relationship between Jose Mourinho and his players upon his sacking. Eden Hazard was certainly one of the figures at the heart of that dressing room collapse.

It was not that Hazard didn't try to save Mourinho ahead of that moment. While it's true that his performances were poor as The Blues fell to a series of humiliating results, he was carrying a hip injury throughout that whole period.

Some nevertheless have come to dub the campaign 'Hazard's missing season'.

Mourinho's unhappiness was noticeable over the summer as a series of mistakes were made at Stamford Bridge. It included a poor pre-season and a long holiday for Hazard, where, by his own admission, he came back unfit and thus unable to show anywhere near his best form.

However, Hazard partly blames himself for the disaster after revealing how he now views that season in another open and reflective interview.

"In 12 years I've only had one bad season, the last six months under Mourinho and it was partly my own fault. After the title, we asked Mourinho for extra holidays. I came back totally out of shape," Hazard told Belgian newspaper HLN.

"Mourinho's image of an extremely defensive coach isn't completely right. He is far from adventurous like [Pep] Guardiola, but the season in which we became champions, we made many goals and played good games... we had a team to get a lot of prizes."

Hazard now has less than two years left on his Chelsea contract and that could give him the chance to push for his 'dream' move to Real Madrid next summer.

Some think that Hazard's comments could be a ploy to cover all bases, with the futures of both Mourinho and Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui in doubt. It could be that Mourinho, or even Antonio Conte, could end up managing the European champions and Hazard has made it clear that the appointment of the Portuguese coach wouldn't stop him looking to fulfil his dream.

That wouldn't rewrite the history books though, and Mourinho's reign at Stamford Bridge ended with fans actually turning on Hazard rather than their legendary former boss, who remains to this day the club's most successful manager.

Hazard is now loved, but he was considered one of the 'rats' by the fans who protested the player's conduct after Mourinho's sacking in December 2015. There were no hard feelings between the two though as Hazard revealed that he sent a text message to Mourinho, apologising that he couldn't perform to the level that all had become used to. Mourinho then replied 'good luck to you and your wonderful family'.

Chelsea Supporters Back Jose Mourinho

Before his infamous third season, Mourinho had been the manager to get the best out of Hazard in his career. The PFA Young Player of the Year was his in 2014 after Mourinho's side romped to the title, with Hazard a great source of both goals and assists.

It showed that Mourinho accomplished his mission to evolve Hazard into a more disciplined footballer, using his tough methods and barbed comments to encourage his young star to track back and defend more.

Mourinho believed that being tough with a young Hazard would get a response. "Today we’re playing with 10", he said in front of the entire dressing room in reference to Hazard's lack of interest in defending.

Ten was an important number for Hazard, who wanted to play primarily in a central role at Stamford Bridge. But Mourinho disagreed, opting to put him out on the left wing where he was commanded to chase full backs in the biggest games.

Hazard was also frustrated to see Chelsea play on the counter-attack in the Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. Mourinho responded to suggest Hazard was at fault for Atleti's equaliser, as they went onto win 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho Hazard GFX

"When these comments come from a player like Eden, it is normal, because he is not the kind of player who is ready to sacrifice himself 100% for his team-mates," Mourinho said. "At the same time, the comments were not even critical. No I am not happy [with Hazard]. I speak with him all season and try to improve him all season."

Then there was the time that Hazard was dropped after losing his passport on a trip to France, causing him to miss training for ahead of a Champions League game.

It is a credit to Hazard's talent that he has responded well under all of his managers' various methods. It may not have been an idyllic relationship, but the pair continue to exchange the occasional message to this day.

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It must be said that Sarri is a more natural fit to both Hazard's temprament and style of play. His stunning start with eight goals and three assists this season will give Mourinho even more reason to fear his influence.

He has already shown his respect for Hazard in games at Manchester United, placing Ander Herrera on man-marking duty which yielded mixed results.

They suffered together and the door is open on a future reunion, but for the upcoming 90 minutes, they will look forward once more to making each other squirm.

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