Eden Hazard’s early days at Real Madrid have not gone wonderfully. But do not let him getting what he asked for detract from his time at Chelsea.
When Eden Hazard left over the summer, it was the end of a long saga that Blues fans knew was coming eventually. Hazard, after years of proclaiming Real Madrid was his dream, finally got what he asked for as he left Chelsea with one last trophy.
And maybe it is due to Chelsea being more or less okay without him (unexpected to many) that fans feel comfortable picking Hazard’s time at Real Madrid thus far. Of course, it did not come from nowhere. It was spurred on by recent comments Hazard made comparing fans of Chelsea and fans of Real Madrid.
While those quotes are not nearly as inflammatory as they appear on paper, they have sparked a movement to not only laugh at Hazard’s early days in Madrid but also detract from his time at Chelsea somewhat. That just is not fair to Hazard.
First of all there is a conflation between Hazard’s exit and Thibaut Courtois’. Courtois opted to go AWOL just before the window was set to close to force a move. This came after months of saying he liked Chelsea while using his kids as a prop. Hazard, meanwhile, made it more or less clear he would seek a move to Real Madrid well ahead of time. Is the timing the best with the ban? Not really but it was that or he goes for free and Hazard a least deferred to Chelsea’s demands.
Hazard’s early days in Madrid have been part injury, part Zinedine Zidane seemingly having lost all his magic from his first stint, and part Hazard ghosting in the few games he has played in. But Real Madrid fans are not the patient sort which is where Hazard’s comments come from.
Hazard says the fans are really fans in Madrid. He clarified that by saying:
"“In England there are not so many fans, people there like football and everyone, young people, adults, teenagers, are really interested in their football, but they are not so fanatical about their teams.”"
The word “fanatical” is the important distinction in that quote. Fans are people who support and love their team. Fanatics are people who think that means the team owes them something. Not all Real Madrid fans are fanatics but it would be hard to deny that clubs like that attract them.
Hazard is dead on the money when he says a loss at Chelsea is bad, but in Madrid it is a disaster. Fanatics associate their personal worth in relation to the sports team they choose to support. So when Hazard fails to play well in one game and is blasted by fans in Madrid, it does not come from a place of support. Arrigo Sacchi once said football is the most important of the unimportant things in life. Fans understand that whereas fanatics cross the line.
Is this something Hazard should have known he was getting into? Yes and he surely did. But when Chelsea fans take pleasure in seeing him struggle in Madrid it simply comes across as petty. It comes across as fanatical. Hazard’s decision to leave was not personal; it was just simply his time to go.
Enjoy what Hazard gave Chelsea and respect his decision to leave for Madrid. Do not detract from his legacy by poking holes in his new environment. Be a fan, not a fanatic.