Thomas Tuchel shouldn’t have had to face questions as to why Chelsea have agreed to join the European Super League. After all, it wasn’t his decision and he had zero say.
Yet with no member of the club’s hierarchy willing to speak on the record when the Blues’ involvement was confirmed on the club website last night, it was left to the German coach to try to give answers to difficult questions.
Tuchel did all he could: straight bat. In front of the television cameras, he spoke about not having formed an opinion because of the sudden nature of the news, of trusting the club’s judgement, of why he shouldn’t be asked to judge how supporters who can’t attend matches due to Covid-19 restrictions are feeling.
The 47-year-old is, ultimately, a Chelsea employee. As are the players. It is unreasonable to expect anyone from within the club to publicly lambast the decision of those at the top.
Tuchel trod carefully. He had to. And once the cameras were turned off, Chelsea’s communication officer tried to do his bit by again attempting to steer questions away from the European Super League.
It didn’t work.
And after a heated exchange – in which it was mentioned that a press conference with either Bruce Buck or Roman Abramovich would be welcomed – the first question Tuchel faced was whether he was surprised Chelsea didn’t mention the potential of joining a breakaway competition in his interview for the head coach’s role.
He replied: “I’m not surprised. I would be surprised if they interfered with my line-ups or training. I’m not surprised they don’t include a coach in sports politics and future decisions. This is clearly the board’s job to do.
“I completely understand you are emotional about this and you want to have more of a response from Chelsea. I can absolutely understand every single argument in your introduction. But it must be clear to you that I am not the guy to clear these questions, I am not the guy.
“I am the coach. I’m not part of the board, I was not involved in these decisions and in all the thoughts and work that was put in or not put in. I don’t know the details of this and that’s why.
“I can understand why need more answers, want more answers to get the bigger picture. But I think I’m clearly not the guy because I am here to coach the team, to make good decisions today on the training pitch, and tomorrow against Brighton.
“I can understand why this does not satisfy you.”
The section for written media within Tuchel’s press conferences have often been long. The Chelsea head coach is a great talker, someone who explains the intricacies of top-level football exceptionally.
Yet today, as a second question on the European Super League was posed, the written section was brought to an abrupt close. It had lasted just over three minutes.