Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea will happily play the role of ‘bad guys‘ in the FA Cup final against Liverpool and understands why Man City head coach Pep Guardiola has claimed the whole of the United Kingdom supports Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The UEFA Super Cup has been claimed and the FIFA World Club Cup won, but Tuchel hasn’t been able to get his hands on domestic silverware during his 18 months at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool stopped him from doing so in February when they overcame the Blues on penalties to win the Carabao Cup.
Klopp’s side will be hoping to inflict a third successful FA Cup final defeat on Chelsea, who were beaten in the showpiece game of the world’s oldest club competition by Arsenal in 2020 and Leicester City last term.
Tuchel accepts victory will not come easy for his side – and admits Chelsea may not garner the same level of adulation and support across the country ahead of the final as Liverpool, something Guardiola highlighted at the start of the week amid City’s intense Premier League title battle with the Reds.
“I would say it is hard to really argue with him. I do not say I agree 100% but I can understand what he meant,” Tuchel explains ahead of the FA Cup final.
“There are huge sympathies for Liverpool, I feel that as well in the whole country. And I can understand it. I have friends in Germany and, of course, it is partly because of Jurgen. But in general, it’s about what the club stands for, how they run their business, and how the fans push the team. You have the feeling it’s purely about football.”
“There is a huge history in this club and there is huge sympathy for it. And if you fight against it, like Pep for many, many years, I can understand the comment, why it feels sometimes like this. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s only here. It’s in Germany like this and in France too.”
“Tuchel was then asked what made him think Liverpool received greater sympathy than other clubs. But before the question was even finished, the Chelsea head coach began his answer:”You know Klopp is the master of being the underdog.
“When he trained Dortmund, the whole country loved Dortmund. Now he trains Liverpool and you have the feeling the whole country loves Liverpool. It’s big, big, big credit to him and this is what you deal with when you play with a team against him. It’s always like this, but it’s always the fun part.”
“So if we are the bad guys tomorrow, then no problem. 49 or 40%, then no problem. We take that role. We don’t want to have the sympathy of the country tomorrow, we want to have the trophy.”
The careers of Klopp and Tuchel are intrinsically linked.
Tuchel is seen as more studious and less charismatic, although those who have been in his presence at press conferences this season would attest to the 48-year-old having a sharp wit and strong sense of humour.
“You have to do your thing and not get influenced,” Tuchel says.
“I was the guy behind him at Dortmund and it was another role to do this, not always easy. But I have nothing but the biggest respect for him for what he’s doing. He is very charismatic. He is like one with the supporters and the club. He is the face, the charismatic leader of the development of this huge club.”
“It is at a club with a huge, huge reputation, not only in Europe but worldwide. So my players have to step up against it and I have to step up against it. It is always like this. Not only on the field but on the side. We cannot be bullied by anybody. It is not possible.”