Chelsea’s ‘fall from grace’ in the 2015/16 Premier League season is almost as shocking as the fact Leicester City already have one hand on this years trophy. However, the downfall of the champions has left many people scratching their heads as to what exactly went wrong at Stamford Bridge this season?
A string of poor performances, a shocking pre season and a lack of summer expenditure have led to a miserable season, and the worst of the Abramovich era. Jose Mourinho left the club for the second time, after only winning the league 7 months beforehand. A number of players were blamed by fans for the eventual ousting of the ‘Special One’, as it was believed certain individuals were deliberately under performing. One man who stands out from the list of suspected offenders is last seasons player of the year, Eden Hazard.
No one would’ve expected the nose dive in form from the Belgian winger, who only a year ago, scooped the FWA Footballer of the Year and the PFA Players Player of the Year awards.
However, fast forward a 12 months and the Belgian couldn’t be further away from the short list, never mind the top spot. Hazard was pivotal in Chelsea’s success last season, and was man of the match in 12 games (BPL 10, CL 2). He appeared in every league game and averaged a very impressive 7.96 rating per game. Yet, the winger’s form has spiralled, with nearly every statistical aspect of his game decreasing from last season.
Many feel that hazard fell out with Jose after the Portuguese manager said the Belgian wasn’t good enough to play in his preferred ‘number 10’ role. Mourinho, a manager who installs a defensive mindset into all of his players, whichever position they play, and has publicly criticised Hazard’s lack of defensive efforts in games, often speaking bluntly at press conferences at how goals have been conceded due to the winger’s ‘laziness’. Mourinho is an exuberant operator, who isn’t scared to speak his mind, often leading to clashes with other big names at former clubs, including Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid especially. However, the second Jose reign is over and the hierarchy at Chelsea have decided to entrust a man who shows similar characteristics to the Portuguese coach.
Antonio Conte will take the helm for the 2016/17, a coach who succeeded in winning the Serie A three times consecutively with Juventus. The Italian is infamous among those who have played for him, as an extremely passionate manager, of a similar calibre to Mourinho.
Andrea Pirlo was brought to Juventus by Conte from Milan in 2011, and claims that the man who made him a Juve player is:
“A genius, but like all great men, a little mad.”
“There is a beast in him. I have been in his dressing room at half
-time when we have been winning, but he comes in and will be throwing full bottles of water around because of a mistake we made or because he feels we should be further ahead.”
The Italian faces a number of important tasks as he takes the reigns at Stamford Bridge this summer, arguably none more so than resolving John Terry’s contract issues, and rejuvenating Eden Hazard’s Chelsea career. In regards to the latter, a manager who is of similar traits to Jose may not be what Chelsea fans need if they wish to see the best from the Belgian wizard.
A big question mark looms over the wingers attitude, and the with the prospect of no European football next year all but a formality, it seems difficult to see how Hazard will remain driven, especially with the allure of a possible PSG bid in the summer seeming increasingly likely as with the departure of talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it’ll be no surprise to see the Parisians invest heavily in the next window. Hazard fuelled the fire of his transfer in February, claiming a move to PSG “would be hard to turn down.”
Zidane is also an admirer, and when asked about the prospect of Hazard joining ‘Los Blancos’ simply said:
“Do I see him going to Real Madrid? I love the player, that’s all I will say.”
The growing concerns among Chelsea fans seem justified, which team would be happy to depart with not only their best player, but someone who was the division’s best player less than a year ago. Of course, in the current market, Hazard’s departure would be an expensive one to whomever secures the Belgian’s signature, yet, other big money moves from Premier League clubs didn’t pay off as well as the club’s executives may have first hoped. Liverpool faced a similar predicament with Luis Suarez, but when the Uruguayan did eventually leave, the Merseyside club decided the best way to spend the transfer kitty was to bring in Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert. Spurs quickly aimed to rebuild after the Gareth Bale sale, and reacted buy spending £110m in the summer window, recruiting the likes of Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue…
Nevertheless, Chelsea are without European football next season, and Antonio Conte will require the services of Eden Hazard if the West London club are to bounce back into the the top four. However, should the Belgian part company with the West London club, it is destined to cause uproar amongst fans, as other departures; Lukaku and De Bruyne, have gone on to improve dramatically at their news clubs.
It is needless to say that the recruitment department of the Abramovich empire will come under serious scrutiny, especially if the club follows suit in a knee jerk reaction of summer transfers similar to that of Liverpool and Spurs when they lost their best players…