Thomas Tuchel upbeat after first game but dampens Chelsea title hopes

Sport

Thomas Tuchel gave a positive review of his opening match as Chelsea manager, declaring: “If this is was our starting point, I am excited about where we will end up,” after watching his team battle to a goalless draw with Wolves.

The German was granted only one evening training session to work with his players but said he had been pleased with the reaction of his squad who had been “totally open to our ideas”, including a switch to a defensive back three.

He did, however, all but rule out the possibility of challenging for the Premier League title this season.

Tuchel said: “I thought the effort the team and the guys put in deserved three points, but I just went into the dressing room and told everybody there is no room for disappointment now, there is no room for doubts.

“I was very happy with the performance. Energy-wise, we had I think 16 recoveries in the last third. We were very structured, we did not allow any counterattacks from one of the most dangerous teams in counterattacking. We were brave, we had courage and we played really as a team.

“It was a pity we didn’t have the support from the fans, I think they could have helped these half-chances create the one decisive goal that helps open up the spaces a bit more. So it was hard work but we never lost intensity and for that I am actually very happy. If this was our starting point, I’m looking forward to where we will end up.”

Asked about the possibility of catching the division’s frontrunners, Tuchel said: “It’s far away, eh? Honestly, when you sign for Chelsea as a player or like me as a manager it’s absolutely right you sign for the expectation to challenge for titles. You sign for the expectation to fight for titles. So that means Premier League, Champions League and all the cups.

“It’s absolutely clear that at the same time we have to be realistic. At the moment there are a lot of teams between us and the place No 4, there are a lot of points between us. So maybe it is the best moment now, by stepping up in the middle of the season, to not lose the focus by looking too far but work on a daily basis on the details in our game. The points will follow, I am absolutely sure.

“We have the capacity with this squad to hurt everybody in every league and in every competition. It’s my job to bring the team to that level as fast as possible and we are here for that, but now there’s no other approach than by doing it step by step.”

While talking up his team’s abilities, however, Tuchel also admitted that his first thought in preparing the game in such short order was to protect against the possibility of defeat.

“We had of course a clear idea to maybe start with three to help them defend against the two fast strikers, so that we do not have the situation that we maybe slip or give an easy counterattack away,” Tuchel said. “So we decided to have control with three on the pitch, with a double six [in midfield]. I found a team that was totally open to our ideas and if you have a team like this, there’s nothing more you can wish for.”