As we continue to ride the elevator lower and lower down towards limbo-land, even words like unprecedented begin to lose their meaning. We’re truly living through historic times at this football club — even while acknowledging that our plight, certainly as fans, but even as employees or workers is small potatoes compared to the plight of those affected by war and other atrocities around the world, related however tangentially (or not) to us.
It’s a tricky balance to achieve, but also a necessary one. Focus must be maintained, as narrow as possible, on the football itself, while also not minimizing or trivializing the circumstances. Chelsea, as a club, stepped well over that line yesterday with the suggestion, however frivolous and petty, that the weekend’s FA Cup quarterfinal at Middlesbrough should be played behind closed doors because we’re not allowed to sell our away allocation. That’s not a good look or a helpful tact to take, even if it did seemingly have the intended effect of getting The FA’s attention and perhaps giving us some leverage in Licence-amendment talks with the UK government.
Chelsea withdraw request to play FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough behind closed doors https://t.co/a8tdPxWEH8— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) March 15, 2022
But that was a small misstep in our general response over the past few weeks, and that’s thanks greatly to just one man, the most public face of the club (both by design and by happenstance), head coach Thomas Tuchel. It’s certainly not a role he would’ve wanted. It’s not (yet) a required course at football manager school, how to deal with geopolitical questions and situations without resorting to the equivalent of the “I did not see it” response. At this point, he could teach a PhD-level course on it.
“Did I have a choice [to be this ambassador for the club]? No, I did not have a choice to take this role. Do I need it? No, but it’s more or less day-by-day. It’s like this in England that not a lot of people in sports are talking at a football club, it’s a structure I really appreciate. We talk inside and, of course, we have people who are in charge in different roles with different responsibilities.
“To the outside, it’s more or less me that talks. Was it always comfortable? No, but I think it’s necessary. I don’t think too much about it. I try to be honest, give you insight, provide you with information, but more or less from a sporting side and coach’s heart. This is what I try and what you can rely on. I am more than happy if things calm down and we can speak about football more than ever.”
One can only hope that we get to talk more about just football at some point in the near future. The deadline for bidding is this Friday, and Raine are hoping to push through the process and finalize the sale of the club quite quickly after that, perhaps by the end of the month. The Abramovich question probably won’t go away completely just because of that, (nor will the war in Ukraine probably), but we’ll just have to wait and see how things shake out.
Chelsea boss Tuchel confirms his team CANNOT fly to Middlesbrough and face a gruelling 10-hour round-trip coach journey https://t.co/wI3SpeFHOw— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 15, 2022
Until then, we also have plenty of our own (narrow) concerns, such as having to adjust travel plans and other such considerations based on the latest restrictions imposed upon the club. The Daily Mail blew up Tuchel’s words in this regard well beyond their intended meaning of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that it makes a massive difference how the team travels — not in terms of who pays for it (Kai Havertz and César Azpilicueta are just two of the players who have already stated publicly that they would obviously have no problem paying their own way if it comes to that), but in terms of simply the time it takes and the logistics of it all.
“There are restrictions and we have to deal with them. There are adjustments in the amount of staff, who is travelling, how many rooms we have in hotels and how we arrive at matches. There will come some, to my understanding, that we can arrive at on a professional level.
“It isn’t about luxury and bling-bling. This is just a professional level of sports, where we play with two days between matches with our opponent having four days between matches and we arrive with the possibilities of injuries. For that, it is better to arrive with a plane rather than a bus.”
Planes, trains, automobiles. Tuchel already made it clear several times that as long as we have shirts to play and some mode of transportation to get us to the game, he will be there and we will be there. He’s not making excuses, quite the opposite in fact. This is not the time for excuses.
“We have a framework to go and play in Lille with absolutely no excuses. [It] is already more difficult to arrange things on a professional level, in the best way possible, for the FA Cup. But we will deal with it.
“As long as we have shirts and are alive as a team, we will be competitive and fight hard for our success. We owe it to the people who support us in a very invisible way. Of course, we are in the spotlight and it is our responsibility to do so. We will do it.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
No excuses. Play like champions.
Looking to make it five wins in a row tomorrow night.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 15, 2022
More from the boss ahead of our return to #UCL action. ⤵️