The fractured relationship between Chelsea's former manager Jose Mourinho and Chelsea's apparent best player Eden Hazard was seemingly clear for all to see.
Mourinho had openly criticised Hazard on a number of occasions throughout his two-and-a-half year stay at Stamford Bridge and the player himself appeared to have stopped trying under the Special One's tutelage.
One of Mourinho's final press conferences made headlines around the country because he had suggested that Hazard had feigned injury to bag himself an early bath against Leicester City. It was at that point that the relationship between the two appeared to completely break down.
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Indeed, Hazard was deemed as the man most likely to bounce back following Mourinho's December dismissal from the Blues dugout. Few of his team-mates were playing well, but he had fallen further from grace than anyone.
However, despite their obvious differences, Hazard has revealed that they remained respectful to one another, even after Mourinho had been given his marching orders by Roman Abramovich. In an interview with the Guardian, he even revealed the heartwarming text he sent the Portuguese after hearing the news.
Not too late to say sorry
“I sent him the message to say I was sorry he had gone and … well … just that I was sorry,” the Belgian said. “We’d enjoyed all that success together last season, but this time round we hadn’t. I felt a little bit guilty because I’d been player of the year. I’d been one of the most decisive players, and this year I’d performed less well. I hadn’t been at the same level. So I sent that text to José and he came back to me, wishing me all the best for the future."
"Less well" is something of an understatement. Until last week's FA Cup tie against MK Dons, in wich Hazard scored a penalty, the winger had played 2,357 minutes of football without hitting the back of the net.
Return to form
For a man tipped to reach the dizzying individual heights of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it is hardly the impressive goal return that Chelsea fans have come to expect. But, as previously mentioned, he was not the only one underperforming; even old favourites like John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic lost their spark.
Things have started to improve under Guus Hiddink, but Hazard refused to admit that Mourinho was the root cause of the problem, saying that no one can explain why Chelsea have suffered such a dismal title defence.
He continued: "For a team of champions to go through what we have this year even I can’t explain. Things have been better recently, but we’re still not winning games quite as we used to. No one can put his finger on what’s happened at Chelsea.”
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