There wasn’t much on the line in the final game of the season today at Stamford Bridge, but a late-late goal from Ross Barkley, the 21st different player to score for us this season, a new record, ensured that the vibes were positive as the players took their lap of appreciation and headed off into the summer sunset — some for a few weeks, some for good.
Chelsea were assured of third place already, though the three points does give us our highest points total of the last five years, even if the season overall does have a frustratingly disappointing feel to it overall, with the best bits coming early and the worst bits coming more recently.
Still, today was a day to appreciate and celebrate, which is allowed even when no trophies are being presented ... and also when no youth players are given token appearances that won’t determine whether they stay or go in the end anyway. Instead, Tuchel chose to reward Kenedy and Saúl with said token minutes, while also giving Antonio Rüdiger a hero’s send-off and Ben Chilwell a heart-warming moment to return from injury ahead of schedule.
“I thought we were going do it again: play again a draw at home. But then Reecey and Ross turned it around again in our favour. It’s a mood changer I have to say and we’re happy to end it with a win.
“The season was more or less finished for us. We gave some players the opportunity to play who didn’t have so many minutes. So I’m happy they could show up and take a deserved win.”
But in many ways, the work is only just beginning. While the players head off to summer holidays, for the club, there’s little time to lose even with the restrictions from the UK government still in place. Presumably those will be lifted shortly, as soon as the ownership transition is approved and completed, at which point it will be time to act swiftly ... but also smartly of course.
“Let’s see when, finally, we will have the chance to act and make up, because the disadvantage in terms of timing for the rebuild is big. We have to be fast and smart.”
“[And] no, it’s impossible [we] cannot go on holiday, no. There are too many things to clarify and give an opinion. [But] even in holidays, it’s also normal in a situation like ours, that you stay in contact and you have the possibility with Zoom and Facetime to have calls, share opinions and move forward because we need to.”
“[We] have clear ideas for the profiles and characteristic of these players. It is not like you put a name on the list and then you get the player. You have to convince the player, you have to speak to other clubs and convince yourself this is the player, so there is normally a lot of work and it will be the same to be competitive next season, while, like everybody else, tries to close the gap to us, while the two top teams are what they are. A benchmark of consistency.
“This is the situation and from there we do our very best to be competitive because this is what we want to be.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Onwards and upwards.
Time to get to work!