The first match of the Thomas Tuchel era is in the bag, and unfortunately we only have one point to show for it. If we could get points for passes, we might have vaulted straight to the top, but as it stands the scoreless draw against struggling Wolves is only good enough to temporarily raise us to 8th in the table.
That obviously won’t quite do in the future, but given current circumstances, the effort from the team was pleasing enough for the new head coach, who put plenty of positive spin (some justified, some less so) on his post-match assessment.
“There’s no room for disappointment or doubt. I’m very happy with the performance, we had good intensity and were very structured, we did not allow any dangerous counter-attacks.
“So we were very well organised, we were brave, we had courage, we played as a team, good input from the bench, a very good attitude from the bench [from those who] did not come on. A very good spirit. I think the supporters could have helped in all the half-chances for the one decisive moment.
“Hard work but we never lost intensity and I’m very happy that this was our starting point, and very excited about where we’ll end up.”
Tuchel had arrived barely 24 hours before the match, and had just enough time to get one meet and greet and basic training session in before the game. While a couple players are familiar with his methods already (Thiago Silva at PSG and Christian Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund), the chance to effect drastic change on the pitch was never going to be great.
That Chelsea still showed well was down to just as much Tuchel’s ability to instruct as the familiarity of the formation (3-4-3 out of the Conte era) and the style (straight outta Sarri-ball for much of the time).
“I am pretty amazed as I can totally identify with what I did [in training]. I would have liked a stadium full of supporters here and we saw 16 recoveries in the last third which is pretty amazing for the intensity and energy on the pitch. We managed to put the game completely in the opponents half, we managed to stop counter-attacks very early, we created a lot of half-chances. Every minute there were more chances...”
“I have to say the staff at Cobham gave us a lot of information and did an amazing job of analysing Wolverhampton and preparing the set-pieces for our team. We, of course, had a clear idea where we would put our guys and to start with three at the back to help defend against the two fast strikers so we don’t have a situation where we slip or allow an easy counter-attack away. So we decided on that to have control with three and two double six midfielders.
“We tried to show where to accelerate, defend and close down spaces. I am very happy with what I saw. I found a team that was totally open to our ideas. This is what we have done for many years, to select formation and when you feel good on the pitch there’s nothing more you can do.”
That said, of course there is plenty more that can be done, and plenty more that Tuchel wants to do.
It’s going to take time, which is practically non-existent in the middle of the season, but that’s what he signed up for. He expects high standards, and so should we.
“I see an exciting mix between experienced personalities and talented guys. I see a very demanding league that brings out physically everything in every player.
“I don’t think there are too many weaknesses, I want to focus on our strengths and focus on the mix of the amazing mix of the team from the experienced players to the big personalities and young and hungry talent.
“I want to create a special energy and atmosphere that you need to achieve and have the possibility to win every three days in a league like this and I believe that we can do this on a daily basis.
“What I found yesterday was a very open staff, a very helpful staff that helped me prepare for this game and an open team. It was a totally unfair lineup today because I had no reason to leave anybody out so from now on, it is the starting point and we will absolutely focus on our strengths and the qualities that we absolutely have and build a team that nobody wants to play against.
“That is the challenge for me to achieve as fast as possible but today, I am very very pleased.”
“[The] players [are] totally open to our ideas, beliefs, tactical approach, where we want to accelerate the game, close spaces, how we want to defend, attack.
“This made me feel very, very good honestly because this is what you wish for. This is the level now and we can start working on the details. We can prepare for Burnley and that’s what we’ll do.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Well, time to get to work then.