Chelsea have a huge match this weekend against Liverpool as both Blues and Reds attempt to stay in the title race against runaway leaders Manchester City, but Thomas Tuchel’s pre-match press conference was instead dominated by an interview that Romelu Lukaku gave three weeks ago, which Sky Italia deemed appropriate to tease last night — the full interview should be released today.
As is usually the case with such things, Lukaku’s actual words were less dramatic than they were made out to be on social media, and his actual meaning probably even less dramatic than that, but there’s little room or demand for reasonable, measured takes these days. Pitchforks were gathered immediately as the furious instant (over)reactions filled the airwaves.
And it’s that part that the head coach dislikes the most about this whole thing, the extra noise it brings at not exactly a great time. Everything’s easier when you win, but we’re not really winning regularly right now. And this now makes it less easy for everyone involved.
“We don’t like it, of course, because it brings noise that we don’t need and is not helpful. But on the other side, we don’t want to make more out of it than it actually is.
“You know very well how it is, it’s very easy to take lines out of context, to shorten lines to make headlines, then realise later it’s not so bad or what he meant. But let’s be honest, we don’t like it, because it’s noise we don’t need, we need a calm environment and focus and it does not help.”
While Tuchel made it pretty clear that anything further in this regard will be said and handled behind closed doors, he did express surprise at Lukaku’s supposed unhappiness — which, again, seems very situational and taken somewhat out of context, rather than a general state of being for the 28-year-old — and added that the striker is happy in training and committed to the Chelsea cause.
“I don’t feel him unhappy. I feel the exact opposite. If you ask me yesterday morning, I would say I feel the exact opposite. That’s why I would say it’s a surprise but I am the wrong person to ask.
“[Maybe we] can take the time to try to understand what’s going on because it does not reflect his daily work, it does not reflect his daily attitude, it does not reflect the daily behaviour which Romelu shows here at Cobham. [But] we will do it behind closed doors. We will speak openly like I think the relationship is and always has been.”
“[While] in the dressing room is not necessary that it is always in harmony to be successful. You don’t have to tell each other you love each other every single day. Sometimes it is good to be on the edge. Sometimes there can be disharmony between certain boundaries. With Romelu, I don’t think anyone in this building is aware that he is unhappy.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
So there we go. Handled it like a boss.
This should be the end of it, but it probably won’t be.
Never a boring day at Chelsea.
You can watch Tuchel’s presser embedded below — starts at around the 10:30 mark.