With our 2021/22 campaign in its final week, and a top-four spot secure, Thomas Tuchel has assessed Chelsea’s past nine months and given his verdict on whether we can consider the season a success or not.
From our very first match back on 11 August, a gruelling UEFA Super Cup penalty shootout triumph over Villarreal, until our most recent encounter, another cup final decided by spot-kicks but this time not in our favour, the season has contained untold ups and downs, even by Chelsea Football Club’s standards.
It has certainly kept Tuchel busy in his first full year in charge of the Blues, not least with the amount of pre-match press conferences he has conducted. At his 62nd and penultimate of the campaign today, ahead of the meeting with Leicester, he was asked to rate his team’s showing.
‘It’s in balance judging the season,’ he started.
‘Given the circumstances – we struggled with corona, long-term injuries and then the situation nobody could predict, a war that had a huge effect on our club in particular – there are a lot of things that are quite impressive. In the end it’s important to look in the mirror after the season. Did we give everything? I think we did.
‘I told the team after the cup final I was proud how we played these cup finals. I refuse to judge the season by two penalty shootouts. If we had won them, it would have maybe one of the most successful seasons you can ever play, with four titles.
‘Now we lose two penalty shootouts, that does not make the effort the team put in and the success the team had to reach these two finals less impressive. Of course we are the first to admit it is not the same to play a final as to win a final, and the first to admit we are here to win trophies. We compete on this level to win.
‘Hopefully we come third, so is there progression,’ he added.
‘We have constantly been in the top three in the toughest league. We have competed with maybe the best teams ever in this league. Put it in perspective, don’t lose sleep about having not done this or that, but there is a lot of ambition in us that is not satisfied. It’s good to admit it, but also not be too worried about it.’
One player who has not featured as much as he would have liked this term is Callum Hudson-Odoi. The winger has played 28 times and not since the FA Cup win at Luton in early March, an Achilles problem lingering on.
‘He is still in individual training, progressing, but not in team training,’ updated Tuchel.
‘Like Ben Chilwell he will come earlier to pre-season, to start an individual program to be back on 2 July for team training.’
Looking ahead to the return of the squad for pre-season and the 2022/23 campaign that awaits, the boss explained why the sanctions will continue to make things problematic for us over the summer.
‘We have a huge delay in approaching players and making plans. Liverpool and City are already improving their squad. We are affected by key players going. We are not improving the squad; we are rebuilding it. This is challenging, but we are up for the challenge.
‘I don’t know where we are on day one of pre-season. What I can promise is I will be here with full energy, positive energy, no matter what. I refuse to think in negative scenarios.’