Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho backs Eden Hazard to earn haul of honours

Chelsea 1 - Man United 0

By Matt McGeehan

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says Eden Hazard deserves individual awards, but the prize he wants the Belgian to win most this season is the Premier League title.

Victories in the next two games - at Arsenal and Leicester - would see Chelsea wrap up the championship in April after Hazard's goal earned them a 1-0 win over Manchester United on Saturday.

The Blues are 10 points clear of the second-placed Gunners, with Hazard their star performer for much of the season, including against United, and the favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award.

"I want Eden Hazard to be champion," said Mourinho, who believes the Belgian is rivalled by only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the global order.

"If people want to be fair, he gets that (PFA) award. But the award I want him to win is the Premier League.

"I've had lots of stars. But he is the humble star.

"He knows that he is one of the three best players in the world, the responsibility that comes with that and he is coping with that responsibility."

Mourinho singled out Hazard prior to the United match.

The Blues boss added: "The day before the game I told him, 'This game we will never lose. Never.' But we needed to win.

"He understands that his talent is fundamental for the team."

Defender Branislav Ivanovic said: "He has been our most important player since day one.

"He is the guy who you just have to give the ball to and he will do everything. Sometimes he looks so impressive, like he is not from this world."

Hazard was part of a surreal moment for Mourinho on the morning of the game at Chelsea's team hotel.

Having prepared all week for Kurt Zouma to man mark Marouane Fellaini, Mourinho was informed by the hotel doorman that the towering United forward would not be playing.

Mourinho, relaying his conversation with the doorman, said: "'Fellaini isn't playing because he was here to get tickets for the game from Eden Hazard. He was dressed in jeans, this and that'.

"(It) didn't smell well for me. I went to Google and I put 'Fellaini brother'. Images.

"So I go with the pictures to the doorman. I said 'hey, this one or this one?' And he said 'this one'. 'He's the brother'."

Mourinho said the other Fellaini - his twin brother Mansour - posed for photos as the United player who had been in the Blues boss' thoughts all week.

Zouma, like Hazard, had a specific conversation with Mourinho prior to the match.

"I told Zouma that I wanted the game to be 10 against 10," Mourinho said.

France defender Zouma was compared to Marcel Desailly following his midfield performance in the Capital One Cup final win over Tottenham and has shown a maturity beyond his 20 years in performing well against Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and now Fellaini.

Fellow defenders John Terry and Gary Cahill have previously spoken favourably of the youngster, who was signed from St Etienne in January 2014 but only joined up with the Blues last summer.

Mourinho said: "He is doing amazing jobs for us. Not just physically, mentally he is very strong.

"Chelsea will have 10 years of Zouma."

Mourinho wishes to win the title "as soon as possible" but played down the urgency.

"If it's in the last game, it's in the last game," he said. "We won't go to Arsenal or to Leicester with the obsession of 'it has to be today'.

"This title is very close, so we need to close this."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph