Thomas Tuchel met with the media after Chelsea plucked a late 1-0 win over Newcastle from Stamford Bridge, but not much of the conversation was about the Blues’ controversial three points.
The Blues might’ve dodged multiple counts of VAR drama but the tension wasn’t limited to a physical affair on the field; The sanctioning of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has led to speculation about the for-sale club’s future.
[ MORE: Ukraine star Yarmolenko scores on return ]
Some of the questions caught Tuchel off-guard, including one on his individual future in London, and the German boss tried to keep it light in joking that he’d be willing to drive “a seven-seater” to manage a Champions League game if the club’s flights were cut off.
But mostly but Tuchel and Kai Havertz showed sympathy and compassion for the nerves and anxiety abroad due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and domestically as fans and Chelsea employees fear for their futures.
What did Kai Havertz say about win, Chelsea upheaval?
Havertz scored a classy goal off a Jorginho assist to win it late but was fortunate to stay in the game after his aerial challenge with Dan Burn left the elbowed 6-foot-7 Newcastle centerback bleeding from the head.
The forward, who is in red-hot form, acknowledged that the drama at Stamford Bridge and, of course, in Ukraine have made it a challenge to focus but that the Chelsea players should not be the point of anyone’s compassion or worry.
“It’s tough. We players are privileged to train and continue to do what we love. We feel sorry for everyone: The supporters, the workers, not just us professionals. It’s a tough time for everyone. We try to give everything for them in the moment. We have to stand together, we try to do this and give them a good feeling.
“We, the players, are in a good situation, really, we feel bad for everyone else. We know this situation is not all about football, there are a lot more important things than us. We try to put a smile on the faces. When you see the emotion that came out after this goal, it is what everyone needed today. We are very privileged to do our job, a lot of people in the world are feeling a lot worse than us. We are just try to do our job, be professional and give them a good feeling.”
Thomas Tuchel’s reaction to Chelsea changes, tension, war in Ukraine
Tuchel was asked a number of things and did not keep it short and terse in his replies.
Here are some of the top comments from his post-match press conference.
On reports he could leave before the end of the season
“There’s no doubt that I stay until the end of the season [but] everything can change. The club is for sale and hopefully it will go through to sort things out and give us perspective. It’s pure speculation and I have no more information than you. It’s day-by-day which anyway is a good way to live your life but now we are forced to do it. At some points it’s not-so-nice because you have strings to pull and ways to help.”
On whether off-field worries have changed the first team atmosphere
“The focus is on the first team, our players, on me, but Chelsea is much more than only the first team in the Premier League.. We are about football because we love the game. … For me personally when I come to the building, nothing has changed so far.”
On being entertainment and a distraction for those worried about jobs, war, other serious real-life concerns
“Even if just for 90 minutes. When we played football during corona, we could not cure the virus but we were there to give people some hope, some joy, excitement, maybe even some anger, it’s also entertainment. It’s what we try to do now. The matter is very serious. The Kai Havertz goal was exceptional. Newcastle was very physical and made it difficult to accelerate the game in the last 30 meters. It was important not to concede so that with one quality chance we could win it and full credit because we did it and never got frustrated about it. You could see for me what it does for a team in the final four minutes. This is what happens. I think the distraction not level was not the biggest part today.”
On subbing out Malang Sarr for USMNT star Christian Pulisic with the score 0-0
“We took the risk to increase the offensive threat and in the end we had a double run with Kai and Christian Pulisic to arrive in the box so I’m happy. It was a bit of a risk because Malang is important in defending set pieces. It was a bit of a gamble because the game was a draw and in the moment we only have a point but we could get two more. Kovacic was strong, Christian was very strong, and Romelu gave a presence.”