With Chelsea in search of some incisive attacking impetus even before the injuries to Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s performances in his last couple appearances are certainly promising. Head coach Thomas Tuchel praised the 20-year-old for his play against Malmö as well as Norwich City, but as usual, has also made it clear that he wants Hudson-Odoi to keep producing those performances on a (more) consistent basis.
Some of that may seem a bit harsh from the head coach, especially with Hudson-Odoi often shoehorned into an admittedly non-ideal wing-back position, but the young Chelsea Academy graduate knows that at the end of the day, he also has to keep living up to expectations with his performances regardless of position or situation.
“[Tuchel told me] to keep putting in the intensity, keep working hard and going forward and being direct – to be myself. And try and create as many opportunities as possible, try and score. Be decisive in the box. It was good the sort of instructions that he gave to me, playing in that position — to be free, to do what you do, and try and make things happen. It was very influential for me. It was good.”
“[...] Every game you have got to show yourself and show how capable you are of playing. You have to show consistency and put in a good performance to show that you are worthy of playing in the team. You have got to prove it to yourself as well, keep on doing your stuff.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Chelsea FC
Tuchel’s already said that Hudson-Odoi will get his next opportunity to impress tomorrow, in the League Cup fourth round match against Southampton. If he keeps impressing, he will surely keep playing — Tuchel has shown plenty of willingness to play the hot hand and bench out-of-form players. (Of course, it’s not just about the short-term moments and results, though the head coach obviously has to prioritize those at the end of the day.)
“He needs [us to be hard on him]. You need to prove it, to show it [so] we are hopefully not unfair but we are tough on him, because it’s not enough with this talent just to be a part of the group.
“We are also very aware we are maybe a bit unfair and play him too often as a right wing-back where he cannot show his full potential. We are aware of that so it’s always a mix and at the moment, we think that we find a way to push him to the limits and this can change from week to week.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
A former youth coach himself, Tuchel seems to have plenty of clarity of vision and process in this case as well. It’s not exactly the least risky approach, but the rewards could be worth it.