‘It’s not the time for praise, it’s time to finish the job’: Chelsea boss Tuchel issues rallying cry ahead of double title hunt
After guiding Chelsea to the finals of both the Champions League and FA Cup since succeeding Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge in January, German boss Thomas Tuchel says that he has no intention of stopping to smell the roses.
It may have stung Blues fans when the news broke, but even the most ardent of Chelsea fans must be able to admit by now that Roman Abramovich’s decision to axe club legend Lampard in favor of the suddenly-available Tuchel earlier this year was a wise move.
While Lampard’s side certainly impressed at times during his 18-month spell in charge and he has – quite rightly – been given praise for overseeing an influx of youth in Chelsea’s first team squad, Tuchel’s appointment saw the club ease into new a gear.
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Simply put, Chelsea are purring at the moment. Defensive maladies which had manifested under Lampard have been rooted out, while new life has been breathed into the likes of Jorginho and Antonio Rudiger, and even Kai Havertz is beginning to look like the type of player Lampard pleaded with Abramovich to break the bank for last summer.
Chelsea’s recent form has seen them dispatch both Madrid clubs – the top two teams in Spain by the LaLiga standings – from the Champions League, evict Manchester City from the FA Cup (ruling out any hopes of an historic quadruple in the process) while also playing spoiler and delaying City’s title coronation by a few days courtesy of Marcos Alonso’s late match-winner in the Etihad last weekend.
And while the developments of the last few months will have cracked smiles among supporters in West London, Tuchel is keen to note that neither he nor his expensively-assembled side have won anything yet.
“It’s the challenge for the coach not to disturb them. That’s pretty much it,” said Tuchel in a press conference in advance of Wednesday’s London derby with Arsenal.
“We showed a lot of personality in the last games and I stick with what I said, sometimes if the pressure mounts and mounts and increases all the time it can be a huge next step to keep the level up and this is what we do in the moment and this is what the surrounding forces us to do because all three challenges are big.
“We are in the middle of the race for top four, we have two finals to come and you can only achieve it if you are on a consistently high level mentally and physically, with a good atmosphere and this is what we try to keep now. We do very well and I think the team feels it.
“Nobody is allowed now to drop one percent because that’s what makes it special right now, but now is not finished. It is not the time for praise, not the time for reflection, it is the time to continue and finish the job.”
Tuchel’s pragmatism wouldn’t allow him to revel in the situation he has carved out for himself but earning the record for being the first manager to guide two separate sides to successive Champions League Finals – as he also did last season with Paris Saint-Germain – is an apt monument to his success.
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But Tuchel also noted the role that Lampard played with Chelsea this season and again referenced a message he received from the man he replaced to wish him well in the Chelsea hot-seat.
“He has one of the biggest legacies, is one of the biggest players and key figures of this club,” said Tuchel. “And he represents everything, when you think about Chelsea, you think about Frank Lampard: the way he is and how he played football, that showed his character.
“The message was exactly like this, and it was a pleasure to receive. So we had this quick chat after one, two days when I arrived, but since then, no more.”