Thomas Tuchel admitted his team ‘stole three points’ at Vicarage Road tonight in a performance he ranked as among the worst of his Chelsea reign so far.
The boss made no excuses in his assessment of our 2-1 win over Watford, but either way he will leave with a quiet satisfaction his team still found a way to emerge victorious despite falling well short of our usual high standards.
‘We were very sloppy,’ said Tuchel.
‘It was a very unusual performance from us. We were not ready. I’m involved in that, I have to get the team ready and prepare them for what’s coming. For the first time we were completely underperforming as a team. We did not cope well with the first balls, the pressure, the second balls.
‘It’s one thing to win or lose challenges, but we did not even find them. We had the chance to speak about it in the break, and again at half-time. We tried to give easy messages because it was obvious we struggled in the build-up. We needed to do the basics better and change the mentality.
‘We tried. I don’t think I was too critical with the players, just analytical. We are also critical with ourselves. We can admit we were lucky to win this game. I won’t focus long on this match because we play again on Saturday.
‘There are some reasons it wasn’t easy. Watford played with a lot of enthusiasm and we struggled with the basics. We are in this together and we got a lucky win today. We stole three points.’
Happy for Hakim
'The goal from Mason didn’t really help us to find the grip and grow into the game. We conceded. We were trying to influence the game from the bench with offensive changes. We lost points against Burnley and Man United. It was 1-1 and we tried to infuse some courage with offensive changes. We hoped maybe the space would open up if Watford continued to attack so bravely with high number eights.
'We decided to keep Puli on the wing-back position and bring Hakim and Romelu on. It’s always good if the guys score. It was very important to hang in and get these three points, and I’m happy for Hakim.'
Saul started his second Premier League game and for a second time was withdrawn at half-time. He was among a number of Blues who had struggled to get to grips with Watford’s front-foot approach in the opening 45 minutes, and Tuchel explained why he came off.
‘He was on a yellow card. We had two options, [the other was to] take Marcos off and put Saul as a wing-back. I had this in my mind before the game if something happened to Marcos, but it wasn’t the right match to try new positions.
‘It was him [who went off] to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago on the pitch with the quality of organising, and Trevoh in the six who is more physical. Unfortunately Trevoh injured himself so we ended up with Ruben in the single six. It was a tactical decision and we go on from here.
'The next game is coming on Saturday and I am most worried about the injury to Trevoh. We got a lot of hits today. The doctor was on the field 20 times to treat players. It is a big loss with Trevoh and we have already some injured key players so I am a bit worried because the next game is Saturday at 12.30.'
Tuchel also commented on the medical emergency that led to the game being paused for half-an-hour.
‘The person was dealt with very fast. All our thoughts at Chelsea and from the dressing room go to them, and hopefully everything is going well.
‘The referee decided the teams would go into the dressing room to give the medics time to help, and to make sure the players didn’t stay out in the cold. Then we were constantly informed when we would go out and how much time we would have to warm up.’