Thomas Tuchel decided to cancel the Chelsea squad’s scheduled day off on Sunday as he felt it necessary to clear the air with his players ahead of a pivotal week in their season.
The Blues make the long trip to West Yorkshire tomorrow night to take on relegation-threatened Leeds United in the Premier League.
Victory for Chelsea would all but secure their place in the top four and Champions League football for next season.
A quick turnaround is then required as on Saturday, Chelsea face Liverpool in the FA Cup final.
It is the second occasion this season the two sides face off in a showpiece game at Wembley; in February, the Reds walked away with the Carabao Cup after overcoming Tuchel’s side on penalties.
There will be a desire among Tuchel, his staff, and the players to get the better of Liverpool this time around.
Only after three points have been collected against Leeds, which given Chelsea’s recent form is far from a certainty.
The Blues have won just two of their last seven Premier League fixtures; their latest failing coming against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend.
Chelsea threw away a two-goal advantage against Wolves, whose equaliser arrived in the 97th minute.
After that game, Tuchel made the decision that his players should report to Cobham on Sunday morning rather than spend time with friends and family as planned.
“I also had some plans on Sunday morning and they were cancelled, but this happens,” Tuchel explained ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Leeds.
“And whatever decisions you take – taking players out, leaving them out – if you have a reason my experience is to give the reason and then what can he do? He needs to accept it. He signed for Chelsea and this is the decision. If you do it randomly, without reason, and be super-unreliable, then it’s maybe harder to take. But we did it in an atmosphere still where everybody feels absolutely responsible.”
“So we then had the Monday free for training and not the Monday for talking about the game, digesting, and then ending up with Tuesday only [to train]. It was nice. We just cleared the air and sometimes it’s necessary. That’s why we said, ‘Come on, let’s just do it on Sunday morning‘. Then we have time to give ourselves the freedom to prepare for the [Leeds] match on Monday and Tuesday.”
Tuchel is coming to the end of his first full season in charge of Chelsea.
The 48-year-old has guided the Blues through an arduous campaign in which key players – most notably Reece James and Ben Chilwell – have spent prolonged spells on the sidelines, a covid breakout impact his squad, and Roman Abramovich putting the Blues up for sale before being sanctioned by the UK government.
With the takeover of the club by a consortium led by the U.S. billionaire Todd Boehly close to completion, there is renewed hope going into the summer about Chelsea’s 2022/23 campaign.
It was put to Tuchel this afternoon, given all the off-field issues he’s had to contend with this season, whether his long-term plan for his Chelsea tenure was still on track.
“You need to be careful with long-term plans at Chelsea,” Tuchel said with a chuckle.
“You can end up that it’s not your plan anymore. So a long-term plan is two or three matches – that’s how you maybe live a long-term plan. That’s more important than making it.”
“It’s high-level sport. We are judged on a weekly basis. We depend on results, on the atmosphere we create, and that we live up to it. For this, you need your energy, your focus. You need to love where you are. I can just say for me: everything is here. That’s why I dig-in in situations like this and try to come out with my team, my staff, and my players. There’s no other way.”
“We get punished for one mistake at Everton and now again in the 96th minute. It’s like…is it not enough to be already sanctioned? But you keep on going. The plan is to win games, to take care of the atmosphere, and the work ethic which we have. And then hopefully it lasts for a long time.”