Jose Mourinho has refused to say whether Eden Hazard will return to Chelsea’s starting line-up for tonight’s Champions League Group G clash at Dynamo Kiev.
Mourinho was critical of Hazard, the stand-out performer in last season’s Premier League triumph, after leaving the Belgium playmaker on the substitutes’ bench for last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
And the Blues boss declined to reveal if Hazard, who has been told to up his work rate, will start at the NSK Olimpiysky as Chelsea seek to respond from defeat at Porto in their most recent Champions League game.
“If he plays tomorrow I don’t tell you,” Mourinho said.
Mourinho has left forwards Pedro and Loic Remy behind due to minor injuries, increasing the likelihood Hazard will return to the starting XI.
The Portuguese was critical of Hazard during his first season back at Stamford Bridge and the desired response followed, with the forward compared favourably with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when winning individual footballer of the year awards last season.
“I didn’t say he had a better season than Ronaldo,” Mourinho said.
“Last season he won one of the most important titles in football, which is the Premier League, and (he was) absolutely decisive for Chelsea.”
Asked about Hazard’s response to his comments, Mourinho said: “How did he train? He trained like Eden.”
Mourinho also says Radamel Falcao has given no indication to him of his apparent desire to leave Chelsea following reports in yesterday’s newspapers.
“First of all I don’t know if it’s true. To me he said absolutely nothing in relation to that,” Mourinho said.
“I speak with him every day. It’s quite strange the press know something I don’t know and my club doesn’t know. We don’t have one single bit of information about it.”
Chelsea’s win over Villa eased the pressure on Mourinho, who was the subject of the first managerial vote of confidence in Roman Abramovich’s 12-year ownership following the October 3 loss to Southampton.
Yet he knows Chelsea must at least avoid defeat in the first of two successive games with Dynamo to enhance their chances of advancing in the Champions League.
“We need to win matches,” Mourinho said. “We just want to win the next match. Hopefully now we can go in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, the Football Association has dismissed Mourinho’s protestations that his English was a contributory factor in his criticism of officials in handing him a £50,000 (€68,000) fine and a suspended one-match stadium ban.
Mourinho was last week sanctioned for saying referee Robert Madeley had been “afraid” to award a penalty in Chelsea’s 3-1 loss to Southampton.
Yesterday the FA published the independent regulatory commission’s written reasons for the punishments, which Mourinho last week said he would appeal against.
Mourinho did not attend a hearing, instead representing himself in writing. He admitted the charge, but denied questioning the integrity of Madeley.
The three-man panel rejected that assertion and also threw out Mourinho’s comments on English not being his first language.
“His English is far too sophisticated for that to affect our conclusion, as the interviews themselves demonstrate,” the written reasons said.
The penalties imposed on Mourinho, who last week described the fine as a “disgrace” and the prospect of a stadium ban as “absolutely astonishing”, were also defended.
“It appears to us that increasing levels of fine are not on their own going to be a reliable deterrent for Mr Mourinho against improper comments to the media,” the written reasons added.
“In our judgment the fair way to impose this deterrent is to suspend the ban so that Mr Mourinho is able quite easily to avoid its ever coming into effect.
“The matter is in his hands. All he has to do is refrain from any further breach by media comments for the next 12 months, whereupon the ban will expire completely.”
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