Thomas Tuchel was delighted with the attitude and application he saw from his players, as well as the performance and the victory, following our 2-0 win over Fulham.
Sandwiched between two massive fixtures, in the shape of the two legs of our Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid, Tuchel made changes to his side in order to keep some players rested, as well as give others a chance.
Having seen his rotated side win with a clean sheet and picking up no further injury concerns, he feels it was the best possible way to prepare for our second leg against the Spaniards.
'It was a perfect game, in that respect,' he said. 'I’m absolutely happy and the team gets full credit for this game. This was a big win. Now we arrive with a clear mind, we have nothing to regret and nothing else to think about except Wednesday’s game.'
He was also full of praise for one of those who came into the starting line-up against Fulham, Kai Havertz, as he scored both our goals and showed exactly the attitude Tuchel was looking for.
'There is still room for improvement from him, but for today I’m very happy, of course, because he was decisive, he was involved together with Timo as double-strikers, and with Mason and Hakim as the four offensive guys. He was always involved in dangerous attacks and in dangerous situations.
'For me he is the individual example of what was good about the players on the pitch today who maybe had a tough decision go against them last Tuesday. Kai did not play with the attitude of thinking “now they need me” and “I wanted to have more time in Madrid” and “why do I only play now against Fulham?”. That was absolutely not the case.
'He took his chance, he showed up, and this is what we need all the time, but especially in situations like this. We need guys who are fully committed. That means if you have a chance then you show up. If you have five minutes, 15 minutes or a whole game, show that you are ready and give the manager a headache for the next game. That is what he did and it is an example of what the whole team did. That’s why they get full credit from me.'
Tuchel felt this was an important win for our chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League, but insists we are nowhere near being able to consider that goal as achieved...
'I feel we have nothing to lose. We are in the middle of the race, I don’t think it has been decided yet, but it was such a big win to keep the advantage for which we worked so hard in the last few weeks.
'Now it is very important that we have a clear mind and nothing to regret for the Wednesday game, and then the next league games. If you look at our fixtures you will see how tough it is and we take nothing for granted.
'We work hard, keep our heads down and our feet on the ground and try to do the best we can together as a group.'
He also explained what it is that impresses him the most about Mason Mount, as well as confirming his substitution was pre-planned and not down to the midfielder picking up an injury in a heavy second-half fall...
'He has the full package, mentally, physically and in terms of his talent and most importantly his character. Both his feet are on the ground and he is a nice guy. I get the feeling that he comes to Cobham every day to learn something, to get new experiences. He is a guy who can recover very fast, he is a very physical player, is fully adapted to Premier League football. He is full of self-confidence, but in a very positive way.
'So it’s a pleasure to have him, a pleasure to be at his side to guide him and support him. It’s impressive because he seems to be not affected by all the praise when he gets it, or the criticisms, and this is maybe the most important thing. He seems to me like a guy who likes the sport, who feels an obligation to make the most out of it and he absolutely wants every win badly. So it’s a top mix.
'It was my decision to take him off. There was not any doctor or physio who told me to take him off. I saw him landing hard, but it was the moment anyway when we wanted to take him off if we had the chance, at around 70 minutes. So there was a bit of playing it safe with him, but I haven't been given any new information about a problem for him, so he should be fine for Wednesday.'