Sounds like hairdryers were set to high and hot yesterday at Cobham, as Thomas Tuchel gave the team a piece of his mind following Wednesday night’s debacle against Real Madrid, which came just a few days after a similar debacle against Brentford.
This wasn’t a time for discussion, as the head coach told today’s press conference. It was a time for the players to sit down, shut up, and pay attention. Oh, and to do better of course.
“It was not a discussion meeting yesterday. It was more that I gave my point of view, and that is sometimes also necessary. We take the players’ views very seriously and often into account, but after the last two games, we thought it is necessary to give our point of view.
“But it was behind closed doors and in an atmosphere where everybody can take criticism. [We] don’t point fingers, and we don’t look for people that are guilty. We are in this together. We needed to point out some things in our game that we are not happy with and where we could have defended and done better.
“It was about the game. It was about offensive principles in our game – what we wanted to do and lacked doing. Unfortunately, and a bit surprisingly, we lacked structure in the last game. Normally that is our big strength: you clearly see what we try to do and play. That was not the case, and it’s a big problem. Then you lacked the rhythm and repetitions of our attacks.
“We lacked discipline in attacking and positional discipline. It was a big disadvantage on counter-pressing because we were not in the places where we were supposed to be. So, this gives a big disadvantage in counter-pressing. In defending, we lacked intensity and investment. [We] figured out the details because it’s not about general criticism, it’s about details about situations. It is about trusting in the players. I love the players, the group, I love to be involved. We can do better together.”
We haven’t had to deal with too much adversity (on the pitch anyway) in Tuchel’s time, with the team playing a very controlled, structured style of football with the express main purpose of being “hard to beat”. Losses, the few that we’ve had, have rarely been lopsided. Now we’ve had two such defeats in the space of just five days. “Untypical” is what Tuchel’s been calling it, clearly bewildered by the team’s sudden inability to execute familiar instructions consistently and at the high level we’ve become used it.
So hopefully the hairdryer treatment will have worked.
“You need to take care about the process, and right now, yesterday it was, to be honest with the team, explain your reactions and why it is like this. It is necessary for the players to see why it is like it and can handle it if the manager is sometimes angry. I think I had some reasons, and I presented my reasons. From there on, we go.
“Nobody will lack my support from now on, lack my love and appreciation as a group and as players. I love to be involved. Sometimes you have to handle this with any team in the world. This isn’t amateur football or youth football. In our group, it isn’t the same.”
Next up are a struggling Southampton team, but who played us close twice already this season, with our first meeting decided only in the final ten minutes (and with Southampton down to 10) and our second meeting, in the League Cup, only decided on penalties.
And we will have to do so without Callum Hudson-Odoi still, and also possibly Hakim Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku, who are nursing knocks from Wednesday night. Lukaku and Hudson-Odoi are both dealing with Achilles troubles, with the latter’s starting to become rather concerning after over a month out — and counting.
“Callum Hudson-Odoi is still out, and we are a bit in doubt with Romelu and Hakim Ziyech. We need to see. They were not in training due to little problems. But we hope to have them in training. We need test and confirmation from training at three o’clock to see if they are available for tomorrow.”
“It doesn’t look so good at the moment [for CHO]. It’s not a matter of days at the moment, I think, it’s a matter of weeks. It’s a setback [...] it’s stopped his season. It’s not his fault, but it’s an upset. [Lukaku] has Achilles pain too. It is just painful, not a major injury, just painful.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
So that’s not great news, but hopefully we will have some better news on the pitch tomorrow!