Thomas Tuchel has discussed the support he and the Chelsea players have been giving Saul, as well as the Spaniard’s good reaction following his tough Blues debut.
Saul made his first appearance since moving to Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid in our 3-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa, but it was not a smooth introduction as he tried to get to grips with the higher pace and physicality of English football.
That resulted in Tuchel choosing to replace the midfielder with Jorginho at half-time, but he could have a second bite at the cherry when we host the same opponents at the Bridge again tonight in the third round of the Carabao Cup. However, it is not a given, as our head coach says he needs to find the right balance after confirming he will rotate his team for the game, in addition to there being several other players competing to come into the side.
‘Of course, we want to give Saul some minutes,’ explained Tuchel. ‘First of all the guys want to have minutes and they want also to show and to impress and to keep on pushing.
‘We need some players who have more competitive minutes. We want to have a competitive team and at the same time use the opportunity to push some guys and to trust them in a competitive cup match like today, and Saul is one of them.’
Whether Saul is in the line-up when we face Aston Villa in west London for the second time this season or not, Tuchel has no long-term concerns over his ability to adapt and thrive in the Premier League.
He earlier pointed out that plenty of players have needed a bit of time to settle after moving to England, including some in this Chelsea squad, and admitted that even he was caught a little bit by surprise by the pace of the game in this country at first.
‘We have guys here who experienced the same, a difficult start here in the team, and this team is a very supportive team so everybody shared their experiences also, from their first matches in the Premier League,’ he said.
‘Me, as a coach, it was the same when I watched the Premier League and when I was on the sideline and my first match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This was another level of what I saw, and I had played already against Premier League teams in the Champions League. But if it comes up to you every three days, it's quite impressive and it's maybe a culture shock. We don't doubt his quality and ability to adapt.’
Tuchel has also been pleased with the reaction he has seen from Saul in training following that difficult start to life at Chelsea, leaving him confident the 26-year-old just needs time to settle in English football.
‘It takes maybe now a bit of time to get it off his shoulders, but the good thing is he is in that age when he does not worry too much, he's self-confident. The other good thing is everybody in the dressing room and everybody in the club knows him very well because we play many times against him.
‘So there are no doubts, it just needs a bit of time and the best thing to react is what he did – he trains good and he trains with intensity and it will prepare him for the next time he's on the pitch for us.’
Highlights of today's game plus the full 90 minutes will be available to watch on this website and the 5th Stand app from 1am (UK time).