Two months ago Chelsea lost back-to-back games. They were by no means easy fixtures – home against Manchester City and away to Juventus – and they were both by a 1-0 margin but even so, following those results, the talking started.
It was talking in the outside world as the Blues’ credentials were questioned but also talking within the camp as the blip in form after a strong start to the season was addressed. What followed was a win at home to Southampton that began the current impressive unbeaten run.
As Thomas Tuchel recalls, there were no big crisis talks between him and the squad in the wake of losing in Italy, just little but important adjustments made.
‘We had a little meeting, a very short one right after the match in the dressing room, and then on the way home,’ he says as he begins the explanation of the days that followed.
‘We changed a bit the approach towards the team with a bit in training and a bit in our style of playing. It's not about being super-angry or blaming somebody, but it was the moment to turn every stone and this is what we did for the next days in the coaching office, to find the mix between being honest, being critical but also supportive, to show a way out of this in which we believe and that suits us.
‘That obviously is with the help of the team,’ the boss continues. ‘With the openness of the team and the mentality, we did it.
‘We hate to lose but sometimes it happens and we clearly were not on our best level. We lacked a certain sharpness, we looked not very confident on this particular day. We were not happy with the performance and the result and it was a moment to shake things up, but not in a crazy way.’
Having highlighted that part of the process was within the coaching team alone, Tuchel goes on to explain how it works between them following defeats.
‘It hurts me every single time, make no mistake,’ he begins. ‘I'm super-protected by my staff, they know me, I know them, and then we have new input here [within Chelsea] with our two assistant coaches and the goalkeeper coaches.
‘We're all in one office, we also are like one team and we are brutally honest to each other. Sometimes I confront them with my doubts, somebody else has doubts, we all have different opinions, and then we start digging and start asking ourselves what here is on us, how did we not see it, could we have seen it, what could we have done better, what can we change. Everything is on the table.
‘You need to have trust and openness within the team to figure out which way we go and which way we show to the team. It is my job to lead a process like this and then to focus on one or two solutions and bring them to the players.
‘Sometimes it is necessary to refocus, resharpen and be honest and critical with a team and show them a way out, and then also demonstrate that you are still with them and back them up because we do this together.’