For several weeks Thomas Tuchel had said he was looking forward to the transfer window closing so he could focus on coaching a committed group of Chelsea players, and with the deadline now passed and two more acquisitions secured, the boss believes our season starts now.
It has been a busy summer at Stamford Bridge with plenty of ins and outs, accelerated by the sanctions earlier this year and the subsequent change in ownership of the club. As he reflected on our activity at his press conference today, Tuchel gave a glowing review.
‘We can discuss endlessly if we overspent, but the players we got are very good players and personalities,’ he said.
‘Everything was desperately needed to rebuild the group and inspire the group. We did excellent signings. It doesn’t help if we talk about the price. This is how the market was for us, it was nobody’s fault given the situation, but the players we got fit perfectly and I’m very happy to work with this group now.’
The transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona was confirmed in the early hours of Friday morning, with the Blues adding a proven goalscorer to our attacking roster.
‘We know very well what we get with Auba, and he was very keen to come back to the Premier League,’ said Tuchel of the player he has worked with at Borussia Dortmund.
‘Hopefully he can be that good again. We are very happy we could make it happen. He has delivered everywhere he has played. Goals, but more importantly speed and work-rate against the ball. It’s a big package he can bring to our group.
‘Auba is happy to fight for something and accept the challenge,’ added the boss.
‘The more challenges, the better. If he wants to overcome the ‘number nine curse’, or show somebody in London he is better than people think about him, the more the better because he is up for that and he is happy.
‘I imagine the Chelsea fans are happy he chose the club in blue instead of the club in red. They will see very early what he is about. He is a very hardworking striker, the first line of pressing, and that’s what made him special in Dortmund when he worked for me, and a captain of Arsenal where he lifted trophies.’
Aubameyang’s disciplinary history was brought up by the journalists, including a Champions League fixture between Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon in 2016 that Tuchel dropped him for.
‘It was not even about timekeeping, it was about the rule we set between matches. He forgot about it, and visited his hairdresser I guess!’ laughed Tuchel.
‘It was never a big issue. He never misses a meeting. Sixty minutes before training is sometimes a struggle, sometimes it’s 58 or 59 minutes before that he’s in, but never a major concern.
‘He has a good heart. He’s a top character. I’m 100 per cent sure he will fit into our dressing room and influence the group in a very positive way. This is how I remember Auba and this is how I felt him when I met him in London when he was playing for Arsenal. This is what we expect from him.’
On the signing of Wesley Fofana, which went through on Wednesday after much speculation, Tuchel had this to say.
‘He’s young, he’s fast, he’s very strong in set-pieces, defending and attacking, and he was one of our very early targets. He has the kind of profile we had identified early as a replacement for Toni and Andreas.
‘We are very happy we stayed patient, and super happy Todd and Behdad were relentless on it, and never gave up, and managed to fulfil this transfer.’
With all our transfer dealings said and done, Tuchel can now focus on the football. The Blues have had an indifferent start to the season and currently sit in 10th place, with a minus two goal difference, following back-to-back away losses.
The most recent, at Southampton, worried Tuchel, who lamented his side’s lack of mentality and fight afterwards. Now the window is shut, he expects a more cohesive and determined effort against West Ham tomorrow and in the busy months ahead.
‘We will use the stability to grow, to build a group and influence each other in a positive way,’ he explained.
‘I saw a reaction yesterday, and today we had a good training session. The cards are on the table. We will use it as a kickstart, it’s needed. We have the chance to start the season new tomorrow, a home game, with the players that are available. I have the feeling everybody is ready to show up.
‘If we don’t get tough, we will get punished. We will show a reaction. It’s proven we can do it with this group. We need to find the right spirit and attitude in all the matches. We are now using the momentum we know who is in the squad, and we will show a new face.’