Thomas Tuchel completed his first media conference as Chelsea boss on Thursday afternoon, following his second training session in the morning which was preceded by his first game the night before.
He spoke about his ambition for the job and whether signings are sought during this transfer window, but one of the first questions he was asked was whether he fears a fan backlash having replaced a club legend like Frank Lampard.
‘I don’t know, I hope not, because that would be hard on the team,’ Tuchel responded, ‘because we need our supporters like any team and in a stadium like ours and a club like Chelsea, to have the fans so close and behind the team makes a difference.
‘I can absolutely assume that it is a big, big disappointment for the fanbase to see that Frank was sacked. I have the biggest respect for him and was a huge fan of Frank as a player. It was pure joy to watch him play to see how he played with personality. He was one of the key figures to demonstrate over 90 minutes what Chelsea is all about, about intensity, about devotion, about winning mentality.
‘I have the biggest respect for him personally and for his legacy, and it just got bigger when I received a message today in the morning,’ he revealed, ‘a personal message to wish me all the best and maybe that we meet in the future when this is possible.
‘Honestly, nothing has changed there but in the last 72 hours the club made it clear to me that this is not my fault, and I cannot change the situation for him. The decision was made and I was handed the opportunity.’
Tuchel was also questioned on whether he is concerned about his job security in his new role. He replied yes and no and pointed how grateful he is to be able to work at a club at this level. He understands what comes with it.
‘If you sign for Chelsea you sign for the hunger of titles, you sign for being absolutely competitive in every competition you play,’ he noted.
‘It does not scare me, we have big ambition and me myself, I have the biggest ambitions. I am very excited about the mixture of the team and the structure of the club and the first days were amazing. I am absolutely aware that at some point everybody expects results, but I am doing that myself.’
Widening the debate on the mixture of the team and the make-up of the squad, and with the mid-season transfer window soon to close, Tuchel considered whether there is a need for new signings.
‘It is hard for me to judge right now,’ he said. ‘We have now one game and two training sessions and I am very happy with what I see so far, the performance, the attitude and the talent and potential.
‘I think the squad is not too big. N’Golo Kante came back today so we have 22 players plus the goalkeepers for our programme in the three competitions. Absolutely not too much.
With Kante on his way to being back in contention, Tuchel considered what he believes to be the best position for a player he has long been keen to work with, and explained it is as one of two players paired deep in midfield as opposed to when only one is positioned there.
‘I have the feeling right now that the guys deserve to be trusted and I want to trust everybody. If a possibility comes along that we all agree will make us stronger right away, we will not hesitate I am sure, but it is not like we have the absolute need to do something.’‘I think he is the strongest in the double-six, centre in the heart of the game, it gives him a little bit more freedom than when he plays as a single-six,’ said the head coach.
‘The single-six demands a bit more discipline on the position and maybe clips his wings a little bit but I am sure he can play there.
‘For me he is a double-six because we can use his energy and we can use the range and volume in his game, his ability to recuperate and recover balls everywhere on the pitch.
‘He is a big, big helper for everybody, with the mentality of a helper,’ added Tuchel, who also used the description ‘water-carrier’ so famously applied to Kante’s international manager Didier Deschamps in his playing days.
‘But at the same time Kante is a world-class player who played a crucial role in the World Cup win for France and that is why it is super-important for me to have him, and for me the double-six is the best role for him.’