Of all the sports cliches, perhaps the most cliched of all is the idea of taking things one step, one game, one match at a time.
On a winning run? Well, we’re just going at this one game at a time.
On a losing streak? The turnaround can only happen one match at a time.
Getting close? Gotta take it one step at a time.
Long way to go yet? Can only get there one hurdle at a time.
That’s not to say that attitude and approach is incorrect. It’s correct by necessity, by definition, by default. No one wants to be accused of looking too far ahead, of looking beyond the next challenge, of skipping a step like some unruly hooligan who refuses to live within the constraints of architecture and safety, and then falling on their faces. A little too big for your britches there, son, thinking you can take it two at a time.
Those who say these things (mostly) also recognize the utter banality of the phrase, but at the same time (mostly) also recognize that it is actually the only real way to approach the day-to-day grind of a season. Short-term, long-term, any-term — it all boils down to a series of individual actions and decisions. Getting those right is the biggest concern of any day.
Tuchel certainly knows.
“It is maybe boring, and I can understand, but I simply know no other approach than to take it step by step. Once you bring your head up and look [at] more than one game, you lose your focus.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Evening Standard
In Chelsea’s situation, looking up and seeing all those teams ahead of us in the table could indeed be disheartening. At the same time, thinking that we’ve turned the corner under the new coach after just three games in charge, would probably be quite premature.
So we’re left taking it one game at a time, just as always.
“We are here to create performance on the level that increases the possibility to win. There’s not much more we can do but then the players jump in with the atmosphere and energy, what the team can do more than just to be 11 guys out there on the pitch.
“This is what I feel right now is happening and what the team brings out in itself, a certain glue to stick together, to overcome obstacles and difficult minutes, to be ready to work for each other. All this is included in performance but sometimes you can only smell it. You either feel it on the sideline or you don’t feel it but it’s hard to explain and prove in statistics and numbers and behaviours.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
Don’t try to understand it, just feel it, as they say in Tenet. And while we can’t reverse the flow of time to go back and undo all the bad results of this season, the future is very much in our hands and in our control. Just keep winning, and the rest will (most likely) take care of itself.