When Thomas Tuchel and his staff were sacked at PSG just before the end of the calendar year, they planned on taking the rest of the season off, before considering any new job offers in the summer. But barely a couple weeks later, in came the call from Chelsea, and as assistant Zsolt Lőw told Hungarian television today, it didn’t take long for them to decide to jump at that chance, calculating that a similar opportunity might not come along anytime soon again.
(It’s not often, if ever, that I can just translate quotes from a foreign language into English without Google’s help, but here we are, making history once again!)
“We thought we’d rest for at least half a year and spend time with our families [...] but life had different ideas. We had an awful short time to decide, 2-3-4 days, and tons of things to think through and evaluate.”
“If it weren’t Chelsea who called, I think we would’ve probably decided to take the time off instead. But the Chelsea job is an exceptional professional challenge, a sensational club with a fantastic squad in the world’s best league. We might not have gotten such an opportunity in the summer, so despite all the difficulties, we took on this assignment.”
Those challenges were both personal and professional for all three men, Tuchel, Lőw, and Arno Michels. They left behind their lives and families in Paris, and barely had time to unpack in London before it was time to go to work. In fact, they’re still pretty much living out of suitcases in their hotel rooms — though with COVID-19 restrictions, there’s probably not much opportunity for anything else beyond that anyway. (Not sure if that makes it easier or harder however.)
“We’re all family men, but given the sudden opportunity, we couldn’t bring them along. So we had to take on the additional burden of leaving our families, our children behind in Paris, and jump over to London. We arrived, we held one training, and the next day we were already playing.”
“Those first few days were terribly exhausting, mentally, physically, spiritually. We’ve taken on a great challenge. We’re working morning to night, living in a hotel, which we can’t even leave, and due to COVID-19 regulations, we don’t even know when we can see our children next.”
That’s not so say that Lőw or any of the others have any regrets, certainly not professionally. Quite the opposite in fact, especially after an unbeaten start that’s seen Chelsea win three of four, conceding just one goal, an own goal at that!
The goal is not to win the league, at least not this year, but we’re back in with a chance of top-four finish, which would satisfy the powers that be as well.
“After a few days, it’s turned out that we made a good decision, especially with regards to the squad’s potential. [And as far as the challenge] all the teams are tough to beat, and we have to prepare not just against other sensational players, but the crème de la crème of football coaches who are working in the Premier League as well.
“We didn’t arrive with the goal of winning the league in these few months left. It will be a tremendous feat just to finish in the top four, with which the club would be satisfied as well.”
-Zsolt Lőw; source: M4 Sport
A top-four finish and a deep run in the FA Cup would indeed be satisfactory, with possible progress in the Champions League bonus on top of that. We’d surely set our sights higher than that next season, but let’s not worry about that for now.