After watching his side make it eight wins in 11 games since he took charge, Thomas Tuchel described our latest victory against Everton as completely deserved, with one player in particular drawing the post-match praise…
Kai Havertz may not have got himself on the scoresheet but our 2-0 win owed much to the young German’s attacking endeavours. It was his effort that deflected off defender Ben Godfrey for the game’s opening goal after half an hour and then, in the second period, he was upended by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for a penalty that Jorginho converted.
Tuchel was full of praise for his compatriot’s efforts but started by assessing a victory that established a four-point gap between ourselves and the Toffees.
‘We deserved to win,’ said the boss. ‘It was a very difficult first half and we struggled at points to find the right moments for acceleration in the offensive third but we controlled the game completely.
‘In the second half, we increased our level and we passed the ball better to escape the pressure. We created many chances and could have scored more goals. I thought the first half was a good performance but the second half was excellent.’
Another clean sheet was our fourth in a row and fifth at home under Tuchel…
‘We defended with a big effort and a big intensity. Defending is a team effort and is about helping each other.
‘We did that and we deserved our clean sheet so it’s very pleasing. Of course, I’m happy for the goalkeeper and the defenders when we keep a clean sheet, but also for the whole team because every guy puts defensive effort in.’
The boss was pleased with Havertz stepping up in his first start since the end of January…
‘I was very pleased with Kai. We showed a lot of trust in him and he used his opportunity tonight very well. He fulfilled his role, was very fluid and put in an excellent performance.
‘He is a guy that has all the qualities and all the talents to be a dominant figure in the offence. He stepped up and was involved in a lot of dangerous attacking situations for us. I’m very happy with him and that he could show a performance like he did tonight, which I think highlights what he can bring to this team.
‘There is no doubt about his quality, his talent and also his character. He needs to adapt to the Premier League and a new club where you play to win every game and the highest standards are normal but he did that excellently today.
After making five changes, Tuchel was asked about the strength of his squad…
‘When you play in competitions like the Premier League, Champions League and the cups, there is no way you can arrive with 11 players in your head. Whoever you see on the pitch deserves to be there and we cannot just keep players on the pitch just to keep them going. We had some intense games and away games with a lot of travelling so we missed a lot of sleep between Atletico, Man United and Liverpool.
‘It was the moment to change and in my mind there was no doubt about it because the guys on the pitch deserved it. We changed a little bit also for the characteristics of the offensive players because we expected a bit of man-marking in offensive midfield so we went more for speed and for deep runs.
‘There is a reason for every change. You cannot just say you trust them - you have to let them play and they need to show it.’
Tuchel also reflected on those players who have missed out recently, including Christian Pulisic and Emerson Palmieri…
‘Maybe Christian’s problem is I know from Dortmund how strong he is from the bench. I think he started only in the cup game and in the end that’s my responsibility and my fault. It’s a bit unfair because I know what an impact he can have in 20 or 30 minutes. He was a bit unlucky in the last games but there’s no lack of trust or quality. He just has to be a bit patient.
‘We also have another guy I would love to mention which is Emerson, who suffers from bad decisions against him from me. He does not play but he is an amazing guy who trains at the highest levels and never lets the team down with his mentality.
‘This was a super hard decision today to have him out of the squad and the same with Tammy [Abraham]. It tells us we are a strong group and the guys just have to keep on fighting.’