It was all going so well. Eden Hazard was excelling for Chelsea and his manager Jose Mourinho was effusive in his praise for the 23-year-old.
But then their Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid led to suggestions of dissatisfaction from both sides, Hazard reportedly criticising Mourinho’s tactics and the manager responding by pointing out the Belgian’s mistake that led to the Spanish side’s equaliser.
Since then, the rumours have been gathering pace, that Chelsea could do the previously unthinkable and part with Hazard this summer.
The best rumour to date, for pure Hollywood content, is the one involving a swap-deal between Hazard and Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani. But they wouldn’t, would they?
On form, Hazard is one of the most exciting and devastating players in Europe. And yet as Mourinho showed with Juan Mata, if you do not fit into his style of play, you do not – currently at least – fit into Chelsea.
Hazard may well take the criticism on board and become the all-round player Mourinho no doubt wants him to be. But if there comes a point when it really does seem that the Belgian could follow Mata out the door, who would Chelsea fans prefer to see leave – Hazard or Mourinho?
After all, there is more than one way to win a football game – even the biggest and most important – and you cannot tell me that Hazard and Mata at their free-flowing best could not inspire a team to greatness with the right men around them.
The Spaniard is now long-gone, but with every whisper that Hazard could follow, one wonders if Chelsea fans will accept the Mourinho way regardless of who leaves the club as a consequence.