Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge was brilliant enough that the Romelu Lukaku questions were actually asked after the football questions in the post-match interviews, but eventually they were asked and thus, Thomas Tuchel had to respond.
But as one would’ve expected, the head coach wasn’t about to go into great detail of what might happen next, in part because he himself might not know exactly what will happen next. Tuchel essentially decided to ignore all this nonsense in the build-up to the match — which, it should be said, doesn’t necessarily bode well for Lukaku himself — and will now look to address it properly.
“He is our player and will stay our player. We will always protect our players and when we take certain decisions, first we have to evaluate the situation and not listen to the media or the pressure. But we want to understand what he said and why he said it. This is the meeting tomorrow.
“From there, we will take the decision [but] there’s no doubt he will stay our player and we will also protect our player.
Of course, that will be done behind closed doors and through open conversation, involving not just player and coach, but teammates and the rest of the club as well. (Tuchel reportedly has the full backing of the club as of right now, and the squad as well.)
It’s all about team unity at this point, which surely Lukaku himself can and should understand having just come from working with Antonio “thank you for the seasono” Conte.
“It is not Chelsea-like but it is also not the worst thing in the world. It is not the first time an interview causes some noise that nobody needs but we can handle it, I don’t feel personally attacked and I don’t feel personally angry.
“The noise was too big. On Friday I thought we could handle it, then on Saturday there were new statements out there and it got too big. It was too much and we lost the focus for the match. [...] It was clear he would not play and from there on we had a bit more focus on the match.”
“I don’t take decisions in the office or around my thoughts. I take decisions for the team and I listen to them. I hear their opinion, what they think and then I make my decisions once I hear them out. It is their club, their team and it is not a personal thing from me to decide only on my thoughts.
“We have a squad who we protect, which is strong in belief and behaviours. This is how we take decisions, not only this time, but we regularly speak to the five or six players to get their opinion and inside view. We want a clearer understanding of the situation and take a decision on a bigger foundation.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
So, Monday we attempt to clear the air. Then it’s back to work, with (Conte’s) Spurs awaiting us on Wednesday in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal.
A perfect place and time to begin Romelu’s redemption arc.