Timo Werner may have failed to score again on Tuesday, for the 34th time in his last 38 appearances in all competitions — though it was certainly not for a lack of trying, seeing two goals ruled out — but as has often been the case, he created a goal by winning a penalty (after seeing another foul on him in the area go unpunished). All that’s been par for the course for Timo’s first season in English football, inventing new and increasingly flabbergasting ways to not score, but also playing a key role for both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel.
And if the reception and the reaction of the fans on Tuesday is any indication, Werner’s indefatigable efforts have not gone unappreciated. He may not be scoring as much as he was in the Bundesliga, but he’s also tracking back to make a tackle by the corner flag, and that sort of thing will always be appreciated by the home crowd — back in the stands after a five-month absence, and hopefully for good this time.
The frequent chants of “Timo, Timo, Timo!” were certainly appreciated by the man himself, and also his head coach, who believes that with that sort of additional support, Werner will be able to come good next season in terms of goalscoring as well.
“He’s still young and can still improve. This is what we demand week by week. When he has some time to reflect, rest, some time on holiday for mental rest, I’m sure he can take the next steps next year.
“He is not new anymore, he will know the environment, what he is coming back to, his teammates, what he is up against on the first game and how to adapt. This will help him. We try to push the process right now because we need him.
“[...] I am happy that spectators are back because they will see the effort instantly. It’s much easier to be a critic and judge a player when you’re not in the stadium. Once you are there, close to the guys, see the effort they put into matches, it’s a bit more relative.”
As Chelsea fans, we’re certainly well familiar with underperforming strikers, though at the same time, we also know how important big men for the big occasion can be. And we also know that raw effort only goes so far. At the end of the day, it’s goals that make the ultimate difference.
But effort does give some leeway, and to Werner’s credit, he’s continued to work as hard as anyone on the team, even when seemingly all the forces of the footballing universe have conspired against him. And we shouldn’t forget that while he’s older than many of our other young budding superstars, he’s still just 25. Didier Drogba, admittedly an outlier in some ways, didn’t even join Chelsea until he was 26, and he didn’t exactly impress at first either. (Fun fact: outside of 2006-07 and 2009-10, Drogba averaged fewer than 14 goals per season in all competitions; while also scoring some of the biggest goals in club history).
“I spoke about it with the board in one of our very first talks. I had the feeling that it’s still a young team and looking at the characteristics of the players looking from the outside – not just Timo but all the other young guys – that the board should not forget the influence that not having the supporters.
“...I strongly believe fans don’t go for the perfect game and don’t go for results only. They go for the energy and for special moments and to really support when they can feel it that the team is really about football and intensity and love of the game. This is what we want to do. This is what the young guys can do for sure very, very good. From there we hope for support and improvement of their self-confidence.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
On Sunday, the only fans in the ground will be Aston Villa’s. But in the Champions League final, we will have a sizable traveling Chelsea contingent. Let’s hope Werner brings us all a bit of extra joy on both days.