“There’s not much else to say”, said Christian Pulisic back in May of 2021, in the immediate wake of Chelsea’s rousing 2-0 win over Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal to book our place in the final.
Turns out, that was a lie. No, not our place in the final. That was the ultimate truth.
Turns out Pulisic does have more to say. And he’s saying it in an upcoming biography, because of course you need a biography at 24.
Turns out the “anger” that Thomas Tuchel acknowledged at the time from Pulisic was indeed a justified reaction.
“What happened before that game was hugely disappointing for me. [...] Tuchel told me that he was resting me for the second leg and as a result I didn’t play a single minute in the Fulham game [over the preceding weekend].
“Then on match day of the second semi, Tuchel tells me he’s changed his mind and he’s going with Kai [Havertz]. I honestly was dumbfounded and very disappointed. I thought that I’d earned a start and, most importantly, he had assured me previously I was going to start. So by the time he brought me on with about 25 minutes left, I was just so wound up.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: USA Today
Of course, Tuchel’s decision to start Kai Havertz and only bring on Pulisic as a game-changing substitute was justified as well, in part because Pulisic released that wound-up negative energy in a most positive way. When you make the “very tough” decisions and you get them right, you can feel vindicated on the right side of history as well.
Unfortunately, similar situations involving Tuchel and Pulisic didn’t quite produce such historic outcomes, though Pulisic’s substitute appearance against Real Madrid in the following season’s quarterfinals did nearly seal our comeback in the second leg — and that would’ve been truly historic indeed.
Tuchel’s now of course gone though Pulisic himself has not had the greatest of times at Chelsea over the past year (or two?) either. Maybe under new head coach Graham Potter we can write a bit more history together, perhaps in a slightly less frustrating way for Christian himself.