London, Jan. 28: Considering Frank Lampard’s standing at Chelsea it was perhaps just as well there were no fans present inside Stamford Bridge for his replacement Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge on Wednesday.
Had there been, an outpouring of support for the club’s record scorer, sacked after 18 months in charge on Monday, would have made it a somewhat awkward night for Tuchel.
They would have also been grumblings from the Shed End at a performance that produced hundreds of risk-averse passes but precious little threat to the Wolverhampton Wanderers goal in a dreary 0-0 Premier League draw.
It would be harsh to blame any of that on Tuchel.
He was only announced as Lampard’s replacement 24 hours before kickoff and had one training session with a team that had won twice in their past eight league matches.
Before kickoff the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris St Germain manager said the last few days had been “surreal” and he did not hesitate in shaking things up — making four changes from Lampard’s last league game in charge.
Most notably he left Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham — the young English trio so trusted by Lampard — on the bench, perhaps understandably going for experience for his first game with Olivier Giroud up front as a lone striker.
Chelsea attempted almost 900 passes but there was little thrust until Christian Pulisic, Mount and Abraham came off the bench late on. By then, however, Wolves were dug in for a point.
Tuchel was an animated presence throughout the game and afterwards showed no sign of frustration — saying that had fans not been excluded because of the COVID-19 lockdown, they would have liked what they witnessed.
That was perhaps overly optimistic, but Tuchel said the future of Chelsea starts from Thursday morning.
“We managed to put the game completely into the opponents half, with every minute there were more chances,” he said.
On his team selection, Tuchel suggested it would be folly to read too much into it even if the fact he left out the likes of Mount will alarm Chelsea fans.
“I had no reason to leave anyone out, from now on is the starting point,” he said. “We will work on the details in our game daily and I am sure the points will come. It is my job to bring us back to the level as fast as possible.
“There is no other approach rather than step by step.”
With Chelsea down in eighth spot, Tuchel resisted making any bold prediction about the rest of the season — especially with regards to forcing their way back into the title race.
“We have to be realistic. Honestly, when you sign for Chelsea, you are absolutely right that you sign for the expectations to challenge for a title,” he said.
“It is absolutely clear. At the same time, we have to be realistic. I want to create a special energy and atmosphere to have the possibility to win every three days in this league.”-Agencies