It was an understandably delighted Thomas Tuchel that spoke after our 1-0 victory over Newcastle United, a game he described as tough and the outcome of which was decided by a moment of magic from Kai Havertz.
Our German head coach praised the efforts of the Magpies at Stamford Bridge, where it took an 89th-minute goal to settle an even contest.
Tuchel also reflected on the quality oozing throughout his compatriot’s winner, as well as providing an update on the latest off-pitch developments at the club and how they were affecting his work. However, he started with reflections on the display and how his side finally found their breakthrough.
‘It was a tough game,’ he explained post-match. ‘Newcastle were very organised, very physical and very strong at set-pieces.
‘We had a lot of questions to answer. I thought we were strong in defence and in the middle of the pitch but we struggled a little in the final 30 metres with our decision-making and creating chances was difficult.
‘It was very important not to concede but then when a chance came along, if we could find that one bit of quality, that we took it to win the game.’
That chance was taken by Havertz with minutes to spare…
‘It was quality from Kai, an exceptional goal. The pass [from Jorginho ] was excellent and the control and the finish was outstanding, so full credit to Kai.
‘He works hard in every game and that is shown in his running, the distances he covers and the high intensity work he puts in so to still have the ability, confidence and composure to take the ball in that moment and in the way that he did was very good.
‘It was a moment of pure class and we needed that quality to break Newcastle down. Kai delivered for us today and then you could see in the last four minutes what a goal does for a team. We were so good and suddenly it was easier to find the gaps, to keep the ball, to open up spaces and switch the play - everything was so much easier and more fluid.’
Tuchel explained the thinking behind his attacking changes…
‘Maybe the manager showed some balls with his decisions. We started in a 4-1-4-1 as Azpilicueta and Reece James were out and Christian Pulisic came from some days of feeling sick. We struggled to find a real right wing-back and Marcos Alonso also struggled with his coronavirus times so we were not sure if he could make it.
‘In the second half it was a back five and of course then Malang is good in defending but we took the risk in the end even on the left side to be more offensive, and defend against the strikers more or less in a three versus three.
‘Jorginho was the spare man in front of the back three to control the counter-attacks and the long balls. It’s not their best positions but a bit easier for players like Christian when they come into a match.
‘We took the risk to increase our offensive threat and it was a bit of a gamble because Malang was important in defending set-pieces but the game was a draw so I thought we are taking the risk to lose one point but we could win two more points. I’m happy because the impact in general from the bench was huge - Kovacic was very strong, Christian Pulisic was very strong and Romelu gave a presence.’
Tuchel also reiterated his commitment to continue his work despite off-field noise…
‘There is no doubt that I stay until the end of the season. We just have to wait day-by-day because everything can change. The situation is clear, the club is up for sale and hopefully it will go through to sort things out. I have no further information.
‘The focus is on the first team of Chelsea, on me and the players, but Chelsea is much more than only the first team. It’s a massive club with huge tradition and there are hundreds of people here so for them it’s important that we show the spirit and show what we are about, which is football because we love the game.’
Finally, there was an update on logistics ahead of a week featuring two away games…
‘Nothing has changed so far for me. My last information [for the Lille game] is that we have a plane so we can go by plane and go back by plane. If not we go by train, if not we go by bus, if not I drive a seven-seater and I will do it.
‘If you asked me 20 years ago if I would join a Champions League match on the sideline and what I was willing to do, I would say what do I have to do so why should this change?
‘There are some talks going on about the organisation but it does not influence me because we have brilliant guys who organise the travel and in every department so committed people that make things feel pretty normal in the moment.’