Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink says he is seeing just how hungry Eden Hazard can be since the Belgian’s return from injury.
Hazard came under fire from Jose Mourinho earlier this season prior to the former manager’s sacking last month, the Portuguese having been critical of his star player’s workrate and perceived low pain threshold while suffering from minor injuries.
However, Hiddink had only positive things to say about the mercurial playmaker, insisting he had seen evidence of determination from Hazard to return ahead of schedule.
“I haven’t experienced him as a coach in the past, and I’ve had him for just a few days because he was injured,” Hiddink said.
“But he came back with a strong character and wanted to play in the last games despite having only three days of training. Normally if a player has been injured he likes to take time to get into good physical and mental shape, but he was eager to play against Watford.
“You could see when he was warming up, looking at me saying, ‘Bring me, bring me (on).’ That is an indication he can get back to the performance levels we are used to.
“He had a difficult game at Old Trafford, where they were searching for him all over the pitch, but he reacted well. Very strong, his character. If he does that he will come back to the levels we are used to – and he is an outstanding player.”
According to the interim Chelsea boss, Hazard must learn to live with the rough attention his skill will attract from defenders.
“They are allowed to do so within the rules,” he said of the physical tactics Hazard has been targeted with in the past.
“He shows a lot of danger, so people get very alert where he’s going.
“Which means the other ones, when the opponents are focusing on one player, have to take on more responsibility. It’s not dependent just on him.”