Thomas Tuchel has spoken about the struggles of moving to London, re-affirming that he has no regrets about joining Chelsea.
The German is approaching three weeks at the club, after hastily taking over the reins from Frank Lampard. Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel’s arrival, and will look to extend that record when they host Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Although it has been a near perfect start for Tuchel, the transition has been a challenge. Sacked by Paris-Saint Germain on Christmas Eve, he found himself relocating across the English Channel within a month, in what was a blessing in disguise for the 47-year-old.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday, Tuchel said, “Christmas was, job wise, not the best Christmas I’ve ever had. Suddenly, it still feels right now that we missed the best present under the tree, so it took a while to find and open it, and I never regret the decision to accept this challenge here.”
He went on to say, “We had to take a very quick decision family wise, that my family stays in Paris at the moment to finish school with the kids. This is the situation, it’s not easy. It’s impossible to travel at the moment for all of us. Now we have to cope with it like many other people. This is absolutely not easy, and I miss them a lot.”
Tuchel spent two successful years at PSG, in what was his first managerial job outside his native Germany. He won six domestic trophies and guided Les Parisiens to their first Champions League final last year, losing his job in the French capital four months later.
With Tuchel’s family remaining in France for the time being, the Chelsea manager finds himself living alone in the UK.
“At the moment, I’m alone here in London,” Tuchel told the media. “I live in a hotel, so a book has to be enough in the evenings sometimes for an hour. At the moment, I’m reading little crime books just to get distracted, and they’re not too hard to understand, so I don’t get confused.”
On being without his family, he added, “Valentine’s Day will be a Zoom meeting family wise, which is pretty sad. But you know, we are still privileged, we are safe, we are healthy, so I don’t want to complain too much. We are still together as a family even if there’s a distance between us at the moment, but things will hopefully soon get better.”
Chelsea are on a run of four wins on the bounce, sitting on the verge of returning to the top four on Monday. However, goals have not been so easy to come by, with the Blues averaging just 1.2 goals per game under Tuchel.
Tammy Abraham’s winner against Barnsley was the first goal from a striker in the Tuchel era, a peculiar stat given the quality of Abraham, Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud. Nevertheless, Tuchel has not been dissuaded by his forward options, and was adamant that the goals will come for the Blues.
He said, “There is no perfect striker, there are a lot of dangerous guys out there, a lot of strong guys out there, and we have some in our squad. It was very hard to score [against Barnsley], because we only had nine touches in the box. This is way less for what we demand of ourselves, and we have to clearly work on that.
“From there, I need to get to know the players a little bit better, but it comes with every day, and then we will find some formations where it’s easier for us to score, or for the strikers to bring them in good positions.”
Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer this season, with his 12 goals making him the only Blues’ player to have hit double figures for the campaign.
Speaking about the Englishman, Tuchel explained, “He’s a very positive guy, very clear, very ambitious. I like that he made his way on the loans and that he overcame obstacles in his career. When he went on loan, he always scored for his teams, he was always there. He has the spirit to make it at Chelsea – this is one of the toughest challenges you can face, but he is ready for that.”
While Chelsea is the first club Tuchel has managed in England, he could have found himself in the Premier League years earlier. The German was linked with the job at Monday’s opponents, Newcastle, in 2015, but he dismissed rumours that there was a chance he could have managed the Magpies.
“I was never in contact with anyone at Newcastle,” Tuchel confessed. “If they had contacted me, there would’ve been a chance, because I’m a football fan, and I know the stadium, I know the guys who play for Newcastle, I know the shirt. I never had any contact with any official of Newcastle.”
Chelsea host Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, searching for a ninth consecutive victory against the Magpies at the Bridge. A win or draw for the hosts will see them move ahead of Liverpool in the top four race, ahead of a crucial few games in the second half of February.
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