Chelsea and Manchester United supporters may one day come to a settled ground on Jose Mourinho, and the majority of both sets accept that he has his pluses as well as his minuses, rather than swinging from declaring him a failure to the special one.
One of the criticisms often levelled at the Old Trafford supremo is that he’s struggled to get the most out of flair players, and Eden Hazard’s form in Mourinho’s final season at Chelsea is held aloft as justification for that viewpoint.
That isn’t all the back-up, obviously, with the Portuguese manager not thought to be getting the best out of some his Manchester United attackers such as Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial, not to mention Paul Pogba.
But Hazard, interestingly, sees things differently. The Belgian international doesn’t feel he was too restricted at Chelsea under Mourinho, and actually believes the current United boss is the one manager he’d like to work for again.
Speaking to Belgian newspaper HLN, Hazard explained: “The last season under Mourinho was not pleasant anymore, we didn’t win, we got into a sort of routine, training-training without having fun, it was better for all parties that the collaboration came to an end. If I’m now asked one coach with whom I want to work again, then I say: Mourinho.”
HLN were a little shocked by the answer, so pressed Hazard further: “If the results are poor, he starts criticising his players – you know that, but afterwards I’ve been able to accept that, it’s part of his character.
“If you win, Mourinho is the best coach you can imagine. Then he is a friend of yours – you can do whatever you want (laughs). Want one day off, he gives you two. If everything goes well, Mourinho will experience football like me: with ease. Even his own image of an extremely defensive coach was not too bad. He is far from adventurous like Guardiola, but the year in which we became champions, we have made many goals and played good games.
“I do not regret many things in my career, but that I have not been able to work with Mourinho at Chelsea anymore (is one). We had a team to get a lot of prizes, but we just ended up in a negative spiral.”
There may be a distinct reason why Hazard has such good memories of the Manchester United manager, and that’s holidays, with the Chelsea star feeling that perhaps his old boss was too generous.
“In those twelve years of professional career, I have had one bad year – the last six months under Mourinho, and it was partly my own fault. After the title, we had asked Mourinho for extra holidays. I was totally out of shape at the start of the season, I remembered that lesson this summer – four weeks after the World Cup I was back in training at Chelsea.”
So that’s a message for Manchester United’s stressed out stars: Do well, win something big, and Jose Mourinho will be your travel agent’s best friend.