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How Thomas Tuchel can transform Chelsea summer and stop four-word warning from becoming reality


How Thomas Tuchel can transform Chelsea summer and stop four-word warning from becoming reality
Thomas Tuchel has rarely attempted to hide or disguise his emotions during his time as Chelsea head coach. It’s why after disappointing defeats, the German often cuts a moody and downbeat figure in post-match press conferences. Evidently, that extends into pre-season.

After watching his side succumb to a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal in the heat and humidity of Orlando, Tuchel went on the offensive when he faced the press. Naturally, there was frustration with the performance produced, but there was strong criticism for his attacking unit and an acceptance that several players within his squad either want to leave or are considering their future.

Yet perhaps of most concern were the four words uttered by Tuchel when asked whether Chelsea would be ready for their opening Premier League game of the campaign against Everton at Goodison Park. Without hesitation, the 48-year-old said: “I can not guarantee.”

Such a fatalistic response was at odds with the messaging delivered by Tuchel days earlier in Charlotte – and was perhaps born out of the weariness felt at the end of Chelsea’s tour of the United States and the failure to secure another defensive target in Sevilla’s Jules Kounde.

However, the optimism forged following the takeover of Chelsea by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital has long dissipated and the overriding feeling among supporters just nine days away from the trip to Goodison Park is of concern. Can that be altered? Perhaps, but it requires two scenarios playing out.

One is that Chelsea speed up their work in the transfer market over the next week, make a couple of signings, and move on players who are no longer invested in their futures being at Stamford Bridge. The other is that the Blues round off their pre-season campaign with a convincing win over Udinese.

Tuchel and his squad face the Serie A side tomorrow evening in northern Italy and as much as the rhetoric will be friendlies are exercises in fitness and experimentation, a morale-boosting victory would be hugely beneficial for Chelsea heading into the top-flight season.

In order to achieve that, Tuchel has to pick what he considers his strongest XI at this point. So no Kenedy, Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi. No Malang Sarr. No Timo Werner. The side has to – as closely as possible – resemble that which is likely to start against Everton, and then they have to be given time on the pitch together.

Chelsea’s pre-season schedule has always looked on the light side; four games are fewer than the likes of Premier League rivals Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, and plenty of others. And Tuchel hasn’t, partly through circumstance and partly through choice, made the most of the minutes available.

That has to change in Udine. Chelsea’s start to the season may depend on it.


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