After successive defeats at the end of September – one against Man City, the other against Juventus – Thomas Tuchel thought a brief period of introspection was necessary. So the Chelsea head coach and his staff met in Cobham to discuss what exactly was going wrong.
It sounds a bit drastic given what had come before; Tuchel’s reign had been an almost unimaginable success. But the German coach is a student of the game and there are tons of case studies like Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard showing how quickly things can be defused at Stamford Bridge if nothing is done.
So honest discussions were required. Questions had to be asked. Approaches had to be changed. Given that Chelsea haven’t lost a game since then and are three-point ahead at the top of the Premier League table, it is clear that self-analysis was important.
“It hurts every time [you have to do this introspection]Make no mistake, ”Tuchel admitted at his press conference ahead of the blues clash against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
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“I am very well protected by my employees. You know me and I know you. We also have new input here with the two assistants (Anthony Barry and Joe Edwards) and the goalkeeping coaches (Hilario and James Russell). We are a team and we are brutally honest with one another at times.
“Sometimes I have to face my doubts. If anyone still has doubts. When we have different opinions. Then we start digging and ask what about us? How could we not see it [the issue]? What could we do better? What can we change Everything is on the table.
“Ultimately, you need trust and openness in the team to find out which way we’re going and what we’re showing the team. The players cannot be involved in the process; It’s my job to lead the process and then focus on one or two solutions and bring them to the players.
“These moments are always super tough, but sometimes necessary to refocus and sharpen yourself [the mind]. We have to be honest with the team, be critical, show a way out, but show that you are still by your side and ready to support it because we are doing this together. ”
In Chelsea’s first ten games of the season in all competitions, most recently in the 1-0 defeat in Turin, they scored 15 goals. The important thing is that the Blues have scored 28 times in the ten games since then and their attack has been much more free.
“We have changed the approach towards the team a little, a little in training, a little in the way we play,” explained Tuchel Stein and we did that over the next few days.
“I remember trying to find the mix honest, critical, but also supportive in the coaching office and to find a way out that we believe in and that suits us.
“We did it with the help of the team, with their openness and mentality. That’s what defeats are for. We hate to lose, but something is happening and we were clearly not at our best level.
“We lacked a certain sharpness [against Juventus], didn’t look very confident that day, and we weren’t happy with our performance or our result.
“It was the moment to shake things up, but not in a crazy way. We did it honestly and critically, but also supportively, perhaps to find a new solution and to give our game a mixture of structure and freedom. The players did an excellent job. “