In the first part of our exclusive interview with the Chelsea head coach, Thomas Tuchel spoke about summer international tournaments and Euro 2020 in particular. In this second part, he moves closer to home and considers how he operates a pre-season in the wake of those competitions, and how he works with a squad containing plenty of players who were away on loan last season…
As a club coach these days, do you almost have to have two different versions of pre-season - one for when there is a big summer tournament and one for when there is not?
Yes, and it gets more and more complicated these days, because there's almost every year a tournament. Two years ago was a Copa America, this year was a Copa America and Euros, and now in 18 months will come a winter World Cup – again a new challenge and we will try to find solutions while we are doing it.So it gets more and more demanding to prepare teams for a whole season because there is a huge link between preparation and not being injured, between preparation and performance, and between input and output; you can put it as easy as that.If we don't allow the players to rest enough and if we don't allow the players to have enough time for the input for a season, we struggle to see them perform at the highest level, and this is what we want to do, we want to perform for the people who love the game. We want to perform on a high level and it's complicated. This is not a cry for help and not an excuse but it's reality. And this is not like the optimal.
You have explained previously that a lot of your philosophy and how you organise matters is based upon the players you have at that particular time. Is that the same with pre-season as well, you will build your sessions out there depending on who is taking part in them?Absolutely, and I like what we have. It is pretty sure that this is not the squad that will go with us in this combination through the season, but we have no other approach than to give our best every single day.These players now are a lot of loan players and some guys from the Academy, and this group deserves to have the best energy from the coaching staff in the club. This is what we try to provide and up to now from the first day in this pre-season, and also from my very first day at the club in January, it's a pure pleasure because the teams and the players have a fantastic attitude towards training. The work rate and the attitude makes me smile every single day and this is what you wish for as a coach.
Are you also planning pre-season based on what you learned about the Premier League from the half-season you have experienced first-hand?
It was learning on the job and it was like fast-forward learning. What we knew about the Premier League came true. It's a very, very demanding league, the most demanding league in Europe right now, and we have to be on point to reproduce the kind of performances that we have already shown. We need to forget success and restart from scratch, this is the challenge in sports. This is what we demand from ourselves and then we demand it from the players.To prepare for the Premier League we are having very intense training sessions and a lot of double sessions. It's my first pre-season here and we have the help of outstanding staff, outstanding fitness coaches and analysing department monitoring everything. So we have big, big help.Without them it's not possible. The pre-season is like this because of the months of the Premier League and we train very, very hard and the staff are preparing this in a fantastic manner. This is nice to watch, sometimes even demanding to watch, and the players are fully aware of it and give their very best.
One aspect you probably weren't planning for was how the weather has been England and Ireland?Absolutely not! It is a good surprise. It feels like we went in the wrong months to Malaga and even to Asia!
As you mentioned, at Chelsea in pre-season you have a sizeable group of players who were away from the club on loan last season. Have you managed a similar situation before?
I have never had that before. That was new, I was not scared about it, but I was curious to see how the mentality is because don't forget, some of them leave their families behind, some of them want to stay in their loan clubs, some of them have not that possibility.Some of them have done two or three pre-seasons here already. Some of them want to look absolutely for the chance to stay, some of them want to maybe leave. They're humans, they're not robots and that's why we have to accept it's not the easiest situation also for them.But what I’ve experienced every day is the complete opposite – it’s a very positive group, hardworking, full of desire to learn, hungry in every training session and ready to go.It's such a good mix with the five or six guys who were with us here in the last half-a-year. I'm absolutely happy because it's so much easier than I thought, it's so easy and so nice to be the coach of these guys. There are possibilities for all of us and this group deserves our full attention, and they get it.
I don't judge on where you come from or what your history is, or what you earn or what your status is. I'm in charge of this group so they get my 100 per cent. I give my everything, they give it back, they make me smile, I give even more, that makes them smile, they give even more.You try every year to create a certain atmosphere where everybody is happy to come, everybody feels valued, everybody feels confident but everybody knows at the same time what is expected from them and then you have to live up to your talent.These guys are full of talent and now it's on us to push them to their highest level possible. Then we will decide is this in the moment good enough for us, does this help us, is it better for the player to go on loan or get sold. This comes as the last step in this give and take.
The next chance to watch Thomas Tuchel's squad in action is live and free on The 5th Stand app and the official Chelsea website when we play away at Bournemouth on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm.