Chelsea succumbed to yet another defeat last weekend, this time a disappointing 2-1 loss away at Manchester United. While Romelu Lukaku’s man-of-the-match performance stole the headlines for the United fans, it was the substitution of Eden Hazard that grabbed the Blues headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Antonio Conte chose to bring off his star man in the 73rd minute with the match poised at 1-1. Pedro replaced Hazard and within two minutes of the change, Jesse Lingard scored what went onto be the winner. Not only have fans of the West London club had something to say about it, Thibaut Courtois has also spoken out about it.
“I don’t have any explanation concerning Eden’s substitution,” the Belgian goalkeeper told Play Sports. “I didn’t expect him to go off, but it was the coach’s decision. It would be good for him to explain it because I can’t look inside his head.”
Eden Hazard hadn’t been having the best game by his usual world-class standards but he always has that ability to turn a game on its head. As it was, at that stage of the match, Chelsea looked the more likely team going forward and the presence of the former Lille winger would have frightened the makeshift Red Devils defence.
‘Tactical’ decision may haunt Conte
Conte said that his decision to take off Hazard was purely tactical due to his lack of energy but it certainly didn’t seem that way and many have argued since that Willian looked more in need of a rest. It is these errors in judgement that are increasing the chance of the charismatic coach losing his job at Stamford Bridge and if they were to miss out on a top-four place, decisions like the one to bring Hazard off at Old Trafford could come back to bite him.
Courtois’ approach of coming out in the media to slate his manager could be an indicator of where his future lies and with the ongoing transfer saga, it is looking like that may well not be in the English capital.
Header image by Ben Sutherland from Crystal Palace, London, UK (DSC05364) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons