Thomas Tuchel was full of praise for USMNT winger Christian Pulisic following his first game in charge of Chelsea, and also revealed his surprise at knowing so many of the current Blues squad extremely well as he plans to create a tough team to play against.
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Tuchel, 47, was appointed as Chelsea’s new manager on Tuesday and led them to a 0-0 draw with Wolves on Wednesday as they dominated possession but couldn’t find the finishing touch, plus they never looked vulnerable defensively as the man who replaced Frank Lampard hailed 16 final third recoveries during the game.
Asked by ProSoccerTalk about how having players he knew well already at Chelsea (Pulisic and Thiago Silva both previously played for him) and how important they would be to get across his tactics and ideas, this is what Tuchel said.
“The funny thing is you step into a team in the middle of the season and you know already Kai [Havertz] and Timo [Werner] and Toni [Rudiger], and I fight many years to have N’Golo Kante in my team who is here, and I spoke French with Olivier Giroud, and I have a clear picture because I am following Premier League all the time,” Tuchel said. “Even when I am coaching in Dortmund and Paris, I have a clear picture of what the guys are capable of. To find a guy like Azpilicueta suddenly in your office is simply amazing, because in the end I am also a fan. Almost since I am born I am a football fan.”
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“Christian, for sure, I know very well what he is capable of. He had a big, big input. It was an unfair decision today for him to not start. I told him it was only because I know what you can bring from the bench because I know you. I don’t know the others and not sure what the others can do from the bench, but you are a player who can start for us and can absolutely change also things for us from the bench. He did amazing. And at half time he told me ‘hey coach, you pronounced the name wrong for Azpi!’ He helped me with that. Maybe that was a big help and that is why we love him.”
For anyone wondering, Pulisic was probably pointing out to Tuchel that Azpilicueta’s nickname is simply, ‘Dave’ among fans and others.
As for Pulisic, he is clearly a player that Tuchel trusts and he will be key in this rebuild, as his brief cameo off the bench caused so many problems for Wolves as the USMNT star played as a right wing-back.
What does Tuchel want to create at Chelsea?
Tuchel said he was ‘amazed’ with how his Chelsea side managed to adapt to his ideas so quickly, and he was repeatedly asked by journalists what he has to change and what was going wrong before he arrived.
The German coach said time and time again that very little is wrong, and instead he plans to focus on Chelsea’s strengths to push them up the table.
“We will absolutely focus on our strengths and the qualities we absolutely have. We will build a team that absolutely nobody wants to play against,” Tuchel said. “This is the challenge and the challenge is for me to do this as fast as possible. For today, I was very, very pleased and from here we can build.”
He also added that they must be ‘realistic’ and that talk of getting back into the title conversation is way off, but focusing on heading into the top four must be the first challenge.
After having just 24 hours with the team, you could see a clear change in Chelsea’s style of play and it seems like Tuchel has realized that there isn’t an awful lot that is wrong with this squad he has inherited.