Thomas Tuchel is delighted at the way his Chelsea side are performing after his 50th match in charge but knows we need to keep pushing if we are to continue that good form when we host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in our next game.
We welcome the Red Devils to west London on Sunday on a run of 10 games without defeat in all competitions, having won nine of those and kept seven clean sheets. Any doubts that Tuchel has got the Blues firing on all cylinders were dismissed in our last two performances, as we triumphed 3-0 at Leicester City in the Premier League before inflicting Juventus’ biggest-ever Champions League defeat, 4-0 at the Bridge on Tuesday evening.
Speaking to the media ahead of our next match, our head coach was clearly pleased with what he has seen from his team recently, especially the balance in our performances, although he was reluctant to be drawn into whether this is the best Chelsea have played under his management.
‘We are on a very high level, a consistently high level,’ he said. ‘I’m not so much into judging if this is the best, but it is very strong.
‘We feel very competitive and we feel that we have a good mix of discipline, of structure, but also the freedom and a certain sharpness and a certain grit in our games and performances, which makes us very happy and very competitive.’
That win over Juventus earlier this week marked Tuchel’s 50th game as Chelsea head coach in style and demonstrated the impact he has had at the Bridge. No other Premier League side has suffered fewer defeats or conceded less goals than the Blues in that time, while no club in any of Europe’s top leagues has kept more than our 30 clean sheets.
While he insists he tried to come here with an open mind and avoid expectations, Tuchel conceded that he would have found it hard to believe that things would go so well so quickly for him in west London, when asked if he anticipated his first 50 games being this successful.
‘No, but maybe that was a good thing,’ explained. ‘We had no time to think about things like this or get carried away. You can always get carried away or you can hold yourself down because you think something’s not possible.
‘It was very difficult to imagine it like this because the decision was a very quick one and the situation was that we were eight points behind Liverpool in this moment and Liverpool were fourth in the table. This was the target, to reach somehow Champions League qualification.
‘What I can tell you is that I was very surprised that it was already 50 games, it did not feel like 50, time went by so quickly, but it was a fantastic journey so far and I hope I make some more packages of 50 that I can add to it.’
Tuchel also discussed our upcoming opponents Manchester United. The Old Trafford side are in a period of transition following the exit of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this week, with caretaker boss Michael Carrick likely to be on the bench again after overseeing their Champions League win over Villarreal.
However, the German is clear that a team with the talent at their disposal of United can never be discounted, either in a match or the wider Premier League race.
‘I will never write anyone off, not in this league and not in this game, because it is a big club, first of all, but it is a very experienced and individually top-level group of players. So this is still the case and part of the performance from us is to not let them perform, because once we let them perform you can see within seconds and within minutes in every game the full potential and the talent of these players, which is on the highest level.
He also doesn’t believe you can try and judge whether this is a good time to face Man Utd as they prepare for life under a new manager, and is just looking forward to another tough challenge.
‘You can see it either way, in the end we will not lose too many minutes thinking about this, but we will give all our energy and focus on our squad and what we want to do right. We only have one game with Michael Carrick in charge to focus on and to analyse. Of course we have some individual behaviour and some group behaviour that we think we can see as patterns and want to prepare our team for it.
‘On the other side it is always the best moment to play against Manchester United because we are up for the big challenges and we want to be out there to play on the highest level, to prove ourselves and to prove a point. We just came from a tough match and there’s the next one, this is where we are, where we love to be, and we get challenged on the highest level again on Sunday.’