Chelsea’s monthlong preseason was certainly busy, perhaps too busy in fact, with too much travel, too many distractions, too many commitments outside of the football itself — including for Thomas Tuchel himself. Add in the hangover from the sanctions of last season and the delayed start to the summer after the ownership transition, and it’s no wonder that we’ve felt like we’re already trying to catch up even before the season had begun.
“Frustrating is the wrong word. It was challenging, very demanding. Time-wise, I was sometimes involved in things where I did not spend too much time normally. My day is only 24 hours so sometimes I needed to and was happy to rely on my staff to do preparations for training more than I was normally involved.
“It was needed, it was necessary. I spend a lot of time with our new owners to align our thoughts, align our ideas, to discuss and re-discuss our opinions. It was necessary, it still is like this so it was needed that I adapt. It was not frustrating but quite challenging and time-consuming.”
And while results in preseason still don’t actually matter, the 4-0 defeat in the sweltering heat of Orlando, Florida to an Arsenal side who looked streets ahead was certainly the low point of the summer, with frustrations evident not just with the result but the manner of the defeat itself.
We had hoped that those 90 minutes would be a wake-up call, if nothing else, and it sounds like that’s precisely what has happened. While clearly there was no way to go but up from there, Tuchel has been much more pleased by what he’s seen over the last two weeks.
“We are some steps further. It was absolutely necessary. Maybe it was also necessary to lose that game like we lost it against Arsenal, against a big rival in the league who is trying to take our place. Maybe it was a wake-up call for everybody. Since then we have stepped up.
“As always, the last week before the season is always where you feel a new focus, new excitement, new level of focus in training. Legs are fresh now, fresher than when we trained in Florida. Still, we are not where we can be but let’s see, we feel ready and competitive for tomorrow.
“A very good training week so far, the atmosphere is back to where it was before the Arsenal game like in the first weeks of preseason. Then we lost the energy towards the Arsenal game. After that we needed to digest but last week is good, we feel ready for tomorrow. This is very important to not lose focus and take the first week step by step. We took the possibility to prepare the whole week for Saturday, nothing else. This is where we are.”
The season begins at Goodison, not exactly our favorite place to play — winless in our last five there, including four straight defeats.
But despite the distractions and everything that’s happened, our ambitions remain the same, and thus it’s important to get off to a good start.
“I struggle a little bit to keep our ambitions down. I don’t want to lower our ambitions. I struggle also a little bit to put the pressure on us and say yes we can because I believe we are a club in transition still. We are a team in transition still. At the same time, I don’t want to limit us from the beginning and say it is not possible because who knows what is possible?
“For me, it is possible in both directions so we should be humble and try hard to be the best version of ourselves. I can only speak for us. We have the capacity to win consecutive football games in the Premier League. This is what we try to do. We are well aware of the quality of Liverpool and Man City. I am well aware of the quality of Tottenham, Arsenal and Man United.
“There is normally one or two teams step up surprisingly maybe and over perform. This is the Premier League, which is why it is so exciting. I don’t want to limit our expectations right now. At the same time, I don’t want to put too much pressure on us.
“[We] need to be ready for Saturday and we will be ready. We will take advantage of the start of the season where we have a full week to prepare. This is where the focus is. Step by step it seems we have a very competitive team.
“I am very happy with the players who came and made our squad stronger and with what they bring to this team. This is where the focus is. The players came late, we are in a bit of a delay, still need to adapt, still players to come in. It is a kind of disadvantage but for Saturday we have the guys we have. We rely on them and will push them to the limit. We can be ready to win a tough match in Everton.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Here we go!