Callum Hudson-Odoi has been one of the brightest stars of Thomas Tuchel’s first month in charge of Chelsea — a most welcome development after his relative lack of involvement under Lampard — and the young winger’s absence from the starting lineup today was seen as him being rested for Tuesday’s massive game against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League.
But with Chelsea struggling to make inroads at St Mary’s, and having conceded a quite silly goal completely against the run of play, the first time an opposition player has scored against Tuchel’s defense, Hudson-Odoi was called into action at half-time, replacing Tammy Abraham in a move akin to the half-time change against Burnley a few weeks ago (when Pulisic, absent today, came on for Tammy to good effect).
And while Chelsea did get back on level terms soon after the restart, we were unable to press on for a winner, with Hudson-Odoi himself mostly peripheral to the action. And so, Tuchel made the decision to see if Hakim Ziyech could make something happen (spoiler alert: he could not), and removed Hudson-Odoi barely 30 minutes after putting him on — thus breaking one of the (unwritten) laws of the football universe.
He subbed the sub! And everybody freaked out.
Tuchel was of course asked about his bold decision, which he explained in his typically straightforward manner.
“It was hard for [Abraham] to show his quality. He could not put his stamp in this game so we changed the formation. We brought in Callum Hudson-Odoi but I was not happy with his attitude, energy and counter-pressing.
“I took him off and we demand 100%, I feel he is not in the right shape to help us. It was a hard decision but tomorrow it is forgotten and he has all possibilities to start against Atletico Madrid.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BT Sport via BBC
The second part of Tuchel’s quote is unlikely to be heard over the rush of blood to everyone’s heads, but just like with the Mourinho-Matić situation a few years ago, it’s only going to have a negative impact in the long term if we react to it badly. It’s a wake-up call to Hudson-Odoi, hopefully, and he can put Atlético to the sword on Tuesday.