Our head coach on reacting to the Everton loss and playing to win in Cobham sessions…
It is so long ago that Thomas Tuchel finds it hard to put his finger on when it was, but you have to go back to mid-February after our return from winning the Club World Cup in the Middle East. That is the last time when his full squad had a midweek free from matches or international duty to prepare for a weekend challenge ahead.
The journey back in time is much longer, towards the start of the season, for the previous occasion before February when we had that luxury, so with a strong bounce-back from the performance and defeat at Everton required, Tuchel has made the most of the opportunity to work in a concentrated way with the players at Cobham this week. With a win needed against Wolves today, this schedule is just what the head coach would have ordered!
The process of recovering from the Goodison setback began with the boss asking himself whether his own influence on the performance had been as high as it should have been.
‘You analyse the data and you see we dropped intensity and kilometres on a physical level, so you ask yourself should I have been aware of it before and changed more positions for fresher legs. Was it the moment for that?’ Tuchel explains.
‘We will never be fully sure, you cannot get stuck in the past. You come up with solutions and in my experience that is most of the time on the training pitch. You can talk about it and have speeches or show videos but in the end, it’s the best thing to be out on the training pitch because that is what brought us here.
‘We had three consecutive training sessions this week which doesn’t sound a lot but it’s a lot for us because they were actual sessions, not recovery or matchday-minus-one when you are being careful.
‘It was three times doing whatever we want more or less and that gave us the chance to increase intensity and have some new exercises that you would normally consider too intense. We raised the level of intensity and we played little tournaments to see who wins and who takes care.
‘They were small-sided games and we played for the result, not only tactical or possession games. I cannot even remember when we had a full week to prepare a match so it was nice and you see instantly the reaction, because it’s not about talking at this moment of the season.’
Tuchel considers the up-and-down nature of Chelsea’s form recently, seeing a struggle to focus after the international break when we lost against Brentford, followed by an impressive reaction in following games before another dip against Arsenal, and then a better result versus West Ham.
‘Then there was a very good match against Man United but maybe a bit too much praise for only one point,’ he adds. ‘You can be a bit too comfortable. This is actually what I feel and what I saw in the Everton match.’
Following that disappointing Sunday and the extended training opportunity this week, Tuchel suggests that while not forgetting what the players did up to now, this moment can be looked on like a little bit of a reset.
‘Let’s start from scratch and see who is ready for today and who takes care in three training sessions. It’s important for the guys who can be more or less sure that they play to not rely on it.
‘You have to show it 60 or 65 times if you play for Chelsea. The team deserves full credit because we played almost the maximum matches. We lost three from the schedule - two semi-finals and the final in the Champions League. Every other competition we play to the very end.
‘So we have it. It’s not needed to install something new, it’s just to re-find it, and it’s maybe a normal process during such a long season. The reaction today again is an important one.’