Gianfranco Zola and Eden Hazard are not only similar players on the pitch, but kindred spirits off of it as well, especially when it comes to their approach to the game. Hazard embodies the idea of carefree football, though as Maurizio Sarri recently highlighted, that’s not always an ideal situation when it comes to something more complicated than pick-up football played for [SHIP]s and giggles.
“I was very much like Eden. I was a very positive player, I liked to move around the pitch, find the spots on the pitch where I could receive the ball, turn and make the damage to the opposition. I was very very similar and I do understand that. I believe we try to give him this but also to be an organised team defensively and offensively. Especially offensively. That’s why we ask Eden sometimes to put himself about in working hard.
”I know that’s not his best quality. We understand that sometimes he needs to be fresh when he receives the ball. There is no doubt that we are on the same page. We want to find a common ground where he can get the best out of himself and the team can benefit from him. Not only when he is scoring goals but when we have moments in the game where we need everybody to defend and everybody to press. That’s exactly what we are trying to do. Eden, I think, I have to be fair that he has been doing it.
“We are very demanding because we want to do it all the time. I am sure that we will find a compromise. I am not in a position to criticise a player like Eden. We believe, Maurizio said one thing, that the potential of Hazard is greater than the performances. So he is not criticising what Eden is doing but he believes he can do much more for himself and the team. That’s all he is saying. This is the situation he wants Hazard to understand. Again, when we see his performances we look forward to seeing more and more.”
In a way, it’s rather remarkable that we even have to have a conversation like this — at this level of the game, with one of the world’s best players at the center of it — but this is our reality.annd Sarri isn’t the first Chelsea head coach to have to devise a plan to fit Hazard into a team of eleven players working together, ostensibly, as a unit, but Chelsea need Hazard on the pitch, and need him to be effective and consistent. That will require effort from all sides involved in this thing.
“We know what the game is all about. Maurizio has got his own temper and character but he is a very intelligent person. I believe his intelligence is superior to his temper. He is learning. Trying to keep his personality. He is adapting to the situation. I understand that Chelsea is a team that has huge expectations from the supporters, the media, from the owners so we need to meet those expectations. When you lose a game like against Arsenal there is always something going on.
”You have to accept the criticism and we are accepting it and work out the situations to be better. Sometimes in a strong way like Maurizio was after the game against Arsenal, he criticised some things. But, like I said, sometimes the reaction means that you care and you want to be on top.”
-Gianfranco Zola; source: Goal
Hazard was back in what is said to be his preferred position on Thursday, and rewarded that compromise with a goal and a Man of the Match performance against Spurs. Not a bad way to respond to the Arsenal debacle. Now we just need that consistently.