After the final whistle at the Etihad in Chelsea’s momentous 2-1 win over Manchester City, the TV cameras spotted head coach Thomas Tuchel doing his usual post-match hype-man hugs until he got to Callum Hudson-Odoi, and decided that it was going to a Coaching Moment™ (a la Pep Guardiola).
Given that this was Hudson-Odoi’s first appearance in five games and only his third in the last eleven (featuring just one start), it’s safe to assume that Tuchel was giving the classic pep talk about how he wants to see Callum do more of the same in the future after making such a big impact from the bench against City.
Thomas Tuchel and Callum Hudson-Odoi...— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) May 8, 2021
He’s going to make him a star, trust Tuchel. pic.twitter.com/HZ8s1GSvMi
Tuchel, who’s already shown he’s not afraid of making a scene with Hudson-Odoi, confirmed that interpretation in his pre-match press conference yesterday, laying out the classic challenge for a (still) young and (still) very promising and (still) very exciting player. We’ve heard similar from the likes of Frank Lampard, Jody Morris, and Maurizio Sarri in the last couple years, and Tuchel himself a few months ago — and many other coaches of many other highly promising outstanding young talents.
This is the classic development hurdle that must be overcome.
“Where he played against Man City, this is maybe his best position, we agree on that and the big change and the big impact he had now when we brought him on was that it was not only one action that he had, but it was two or three accelerations.
“Callum needs to understand how to use his potential, he needs to understand how to push himself to the absolute limit and not to be happy with 80, 85, 90, 95 per cent, simply be not happy about it any single day.
“This is the thing he needs to learn and live up to. Once he does this, he will make his way and leave his footprint. It’s about his position. It’s about assisting, it’s about scoring, it is about that, we don’t need to talk around it.
“It’s about putting things to an end. Big talent, big responsibility. This is what he’s trying, sometimes, sometimes better, sometimes OK, sometimes very, very good and when we have a chance we let him play.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Goal
Tuchel had used Hudson-Odoi quite a bit early on, often at right wing-back, but as teams adjusted, he’s opted for more “learned defensive guys” like César Azpilicueta and Reece James. And that’s fine since we all want to see Callum further forward, including the head coach himself.
There’s certainly plenty of competition at those positions, but if Hudson-Odoi gets his chance(s) and applies himself like he did against City (even off the bench!), he should earn plenty more minutes and be able to make plenty of impact in this team — now and in the future. Lest we forget, he’s (still) just 20.