In a way, today’s match reminded me of a match just over six years ago, also at Stamford Bridge, also against much inferior opposition, also one in which Chelsea took the lead and then suffered an inexplicable and famous collapse. That 4-2 loss to Bradford City in the FA Cup was fortunately not televised, so most of us were spared the visceral pain of watching that disaster unfold live in front of our eyes.
That Chelsea won the Premier League that season, and the League Cup, shows just how one random result may not be an accurate reflection of a season or a team. Of course, Chelsea’s subsequent collapse (and Mourinho’s second sacking) the following season would underline that team’s capacity to self-destruct. But we already knew that about this current edition. Now, Thomas Tuchel knows it as well, in no uncertain terms.
As with any defeat, the most important thing is how we respond to it. It’s easy to over-react, but right now, it’s just one defeat after 15 games and first defeat ever for Tuchel as Chelsea boss. It’s a very bad defeat, to be sure, but it’s still just one defeat — ensuring that it doesn’t become anything more than that is most imperative.
“We can’t, after 15 or 14 matches, lose our head. We can’t take away the trust that we have in these players. It was the moment after the game to be honest, but to be calm and to breathe and tell everybody to breathe. It will be a hard afternoon for everybody I think, a hard evening.
“We were the first to start this matchday and we had completely different plans as to how to start this matchday so we have to accept it now.
“It is our first loss together. It is important to find a way to deal with it together, and that everyone knows what I feel like a part of it and so there were some quick words to calm everybody down and to delay the talks until tomorrow because now is too emotional, is too much frustration. It is not productive.”
There will be plenty to unpack since we weren’t exactly playing well either before the red card and before conceding the first two of West Brom’s five (5!) eventual goals. The manner of defeat stings even more than the defeat itself, which is saying something since this defeat stings quite a bit.
“There are two games today. Eleven against eleven which was not our best game and I was not super happy. [We] had big chances on counter-attacks and we were again not precise enough and we missed a lot of opportunities to finish the game early.
“The second story of the game is we were not able to adapt to going one man down. There is no need to concede five goals if you go one man down with our quality. [We] score the goal but to have a red card straight after the goal meant maybe we didn’t feel the risk. But we did that. We will talk to the players about it but the attitude and defending was clearly not the same as we did before.”
It’s tempting to call a game like this a “wake-up” call, but Chelsea were surely alert to the dangers posed by Premier League opposition, and surely alert to our precarious position in the league, with both West Ham and Spurs able to overtake us in fourth with wins later this weekend.
And of course we won’t know if it’s a wake-up call or just a waking nightmare — that will depend on the aforementioned response.
“Our defending wasn’t at the level it has been and the tactical choices for that are my responsibility. It’s hard to accept but there’s no other solution than to accept it. We move on forward to tomorrow.”
“If we look at this game in four weeks hopefully we call it was a wake-up call because it would mean we woke up and started a new run. [But] I didn’t feel we were overconfident or arrogant or lacked effort.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Onwards and upwards.