Thomas Tuchel had to settle for a draw in his first game as Chelsea head coach, but saw plenty of promising signs to build upon having only had one day to work with his new players and prepare for the match.
The German became our new head coach almost exactly 24 hours before today’s kick-off at Stamford Bridge against Wolverhampton Wanderers, meaning preparations were obviously limited.
There will no doubt be an element of frustration among the players after being unable to take all three points from a game we completely dominated from start to finish, having to be content with a 0-0 draw after coming close to winning the match with the last kick.
However, Tuchel was impressed at how much of his message and desired style of play seemed to be taken on board by the team in such a short period of time, meaning he has a solid base to work from moving forward.
‘I walked in the dressing room and told everybody there is no room for disappointment now. There is no room for doubts,’ he said. ‘In the opposite, I was very happy with the performance energy-wise, our intensity. We had I think 16 recoveries in the last third. We were very structured, we did not allow any dangerous counter-attacks to one of the most dangerous teams in counter-attacks.
‘So we were very well organised, we were brave, we had courage and we played really well as a team, offensively and defensively, with good input from the bench from the guys that came on and a very good attitude from those on the bench who did not come on. There was a good spirit.
‘It’s a pity that we didn’t have the support from the supporters. I think they could have helped in all these half-chances, to create maybe the one decisive goal that opens up the spaces a bit more. So it was hard work but we never lost intensity and for that I’m actually very happy. If this was our starting point, I’m looking forward to where we will end up.’
Tuchel was delighted with how the players and staff at Chelsea have quickly embraced his ideas for the team and how he wants to play...
‘I found a group yesterday that was totally open to our ideas, our beliefs and our tactical approach, where we want to accelerate the game, where we want to close spaces, how we want to defend and attack. This made me feel very good because this is what you wish for. From now on, this is the level now, and we can start working on the details and prepare for Burnley.
‘When I look at this game today I’m pretty amazed because I can totally identify with what we did here. I would have been happy to have a full stadium here, I think the fans would have liked what they saw here. We managed to put the game completely into the opponents half, we managed to close down counter-attacks very early, we created a lot of half chances and with every minute more and more chances.
‘I have to say the staff at Cobham gave us a lot of information, did an amazing job in helping us analyse Wolverhampton and preparing, for example, set-pieces and stuff for our team. We had a clear idea where to put the guys and start with three to help the guys defend against the two fast strikers so we do not have the situations that we maybe slip or let the easy counter-attack get away.
‘So we decided for that to have the control, three on two on the pitch with the double-six, and from there on we tried to show where to accelerate and where to defend and how to close down spaces. I’m very happy with what I saw.
‘We found a team that was totally open to our ideas. This is what we do for many years, to select formations that will feel good on the pitch, and if you have a team like this there’s nothing more you can wish for.’
Tuchel was also helped by having worked with Christian Pulisic and Thiago Silva before, as well as knowing several players from their time in Germany, and the rest from following the Premier League from afar…
‘The funny thing is you step into a team in the middle of the season and you know some players already. Also Timo and Kai and Toni, and I fight now for many years to have N’Golo Kante in my team, suddenly he’s here!
‘You have a clear picture because you’re following the Premier League all the time, even when I’m coaching Dortmund or in Paris. So you have a clear picture of what the guys are capable of. To find a guy like Azpilicueta in your office is simply amazing because also almost since I was born I am a football fan.
‘And Christian for sure I know very well what he is capable of. He had a big input. It was unfair today to not start him. I told him it was only because I know what he could bring from the bench because I know him, I’m not sure what the others can do from the bench. He’s a player that can start for us but can absolutely change things for us also from the bench. He did amazing and at half-time he told me I pronounced Azpi’s name wrong and he helped me with that. That was a big help!’