In his pre-match press conference, Thomas Tuchel lamented the fact that he couldn’t prioritize winning the League Cup quarterfinal due to circumstances largely beyond his control, such as a global pandemic and the lack of a proper response to its latest surge from the powers that be.
Beyond just the clash of ideals for an highly competitive head coach and the team he’s molding in his image, at Chelsea, prioritizing anything but winning is a dangerous proposition. But in this case, we had little choice — health and fitness does in fact come before all that.
Still, Thomas the Tinkerman managed to find the proper balance necessary in his team selection, giving full debuts to three Academy teenagers (Vale and Simons, both 18; Soonsup-Bell just 17) while surrounding them with a good mix of veterans and first-team fringe players. That’s why he’s paid the big bucks!
Afterwards, he was rightly pleased with what he had seen, with Chelsea staying in the game in the first-half — massive props to Kepa for three tremendous saves — then winning it late after putting on a few of the big guns (including, and especially crucially, N’Golo Kanté).
“We did everything today to make sure we were in the semi final. We wanted to be there and I am absolutely happy with the result. We had a brilliant performance and result, given the circumstances.”
While none of the youngsters went the full 90, they certainly made a good impression — even Soonsup-Bell, who was hauled off at half-time — and while that may have been expected given the quality of graduates emerging from the Academy each and every year, it’s one of those things that really adds to the good feelings and vibes around the club, to see them succeed. Hopefully we’ll see them again soon, in the FA Cup third round in two weeks for example, when we take on non-league Chesterfield.
“Some of the guys who played today were youngsters [...] in the middle of a match like this at Brentford, you have to take responsibility. It is not easy. I am very happy with how we did this, very disciplined, very structured with a lot of confidence and quality so well done to the boys.”
“They did well. They hadn’t trained for a week because the academy was closed for Covid and then we invited them into training two days ago, so two sessions with us. They listened carefully and did their jobs, they did good.
“Also, full credit to the seven guys they played with. They took care and made sure they did the right stuff and were supportive. Well done to the three guys and well done to the other seven.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Well done to all. You truly do love to see it!