Thomas Tuchel has spoken for the first time since reports of a training ground confrontation between Toni Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga appeared in the media.
The episode, which happened on Sunday, was raised during the head coach’s media conference ahead of tomorrow’s game against Porto, with Tuchel describing how the players subsequently dealt with it and revealing whether there would be any further repercussions.
‘It was just an incident in training and it got heated up between Toni and Kepa, and so we calmed the situation down immediately,’ he explained.
‘I don’t want to play it down. These are things we don’t want to accept and things that are normally unusual, but they can happen in little games in little groups. They [the players] are all competitors and want to win training matches so things got a little too heated up, the reaction was not okay, but the reaction to that, how the guys handled the situation, especially Toni and especially Kepa was amazing.
‘It showed how much respect they have for me and for each other because they sorted it out directly. They cleared the air immediately and this was the most important thing. There was nothing left one day after. We spoke about the issue and then it was solved and this is the main part, that it did not stay with us, it was not an awkward situation, the players did not go home with it not solved.
‘They sorted it out straight after training in a very honest, humble and direct way and that showed me that they have good character.’
Tuchel said it is very natural for there to be a reaction of some sort to a result like the defeat Chelsea had against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, but he confirmed he will not be punishing Kepa or Rudiger for what happened at Cobham.
‘It is a strong part of sport at this level and the character in football at this level that guys hate to lose,’ he added, ‘so once we suffered a big loss in a weird game it is absolutely normal that there are reactions. It means we feel uncomfortable and we showed something. Clearly there are rules and there are lines which we do not want to overstep. It happened one day after the match but things are sorted out.
‘No punishment because of the way they dealt with it. The reaction was an immediate reaction. Toni sorted it out directly which was also absolutely necessary and was a strong and brave thing to do. It was the only right thing to do because that cleared the air immediately.
‘So we continued and made our point clear from club and from me that we are happy with the way they dealt with it, but these are things that we don’t like to accept but for the moment for this situation there is no further punishment.’
Tuchel was also quizzed on whether he is unhappy that a confrontation within the confines of Cobham made it into the media.
‘Sometimes we have little situations where you maybe look away and let them sort things out alone,’ he began. ‘This was not the case, we needed to interfere so the situation was serious but how the guys themselves handled the situation was also impressive and showed a lot of character, but the situation was serious.
‘That it gets out, I get used to it in modern times. There are too many channels, there are too many ways in which information can get out. I heard even that some of my debrief from the match, what I told the team after the game, was out there.
‘If we do meetings, we absolutely talk confidential and for me it has to stay in the meeting room. Nowadays things can get out which is not how we want it but it is not such a big deal that I start now digging for who is the leak and who did this. You can get totally lost in that and I don’t want to lose my focus.