As he prepares to lead the Blues into a fifth final in just over a year in charge, Thomas Tuchel has claimed that his Chelsea side are more than just cup specialists, although he claimed being viewed as knockout kings was hardly something to worry about...
Liverpool await in Sunday’s Carabao Cup climax at Wembley, with Tuchel’s men hoping to add domestic glory to triumphs on the continental and world stage in recent months. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently 10 points above the west Londoners in the Premier League table, leading some observers to contrast our differing fortunes in league and cup competitions.
With victories over the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City twice and Manchester United in cup ties, the suggestion is that Tuchel’s men can beat any opponent on their day but have struggled over the more gruelling, nine-month campaign. Yet our German head coach believes that tangible progress is being made on both fronts.
‘Are we in the beginning of a process to translate this into a league campaign? Yes, we are but still it’s not like we are underperforming regarding where we came from a year ago,’ he claimed.
‘We should also allow ourselves to not be too negative about being third place [in the league] at the moment and playing all these different competitions at the same time.
‘There are an awful lot of positive things in this development and there are so many good things to build on that we should not turn it around and say “this is just a cup team and not a league team.” This is simply not true and I don’t believe it.
‘If people want to look at it like that it’s fair enough. It’s their opinion and I say let everybody have their opinion but we will focus on what we’re doing and that is taking care about the process on a daily basis and going step by step.’
With winners’ medals in the Champions League, Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup already accumulated during his short time in England, Tuchel certainly doesn’t agree that his side’s silverware achievements should be downplayed.
In fact, the 48-year-old prefers to view such talk as a compliment if people label Chelsea cup specialists under his stewardship.
‘I like it if we’re seen and regarded like this because in the end it’s appreciation that we are competitive and that we know what it takes to reach finals,’ he said.
‘That’s always a tough way to go, it’s always necessary to focus step by step, and all this is included if you reach a final, so there’s a lot of appreciation in it.’
Nevertheless, a final always produces a victor and a beaten party, something Tuchel is only too aware of having tasted defeat in the FA Cup final last term, as well as the Champions League while in charge of Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.
‘Of course, we cannot hide from the fact that reaching a final and winning a final is a whole different thing,’ he added.
‘Even if you know before that there must be a loser, you simply don’t want to be that team.’