Monday, March 8, 2021

Premier League title is far away – Tuchel sets sights on bridging gap to fourth

SoccerNews in English Premier League 27 Jan 2021

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New Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says his focus is on bridging the gap to fourth place and not mounting a Premier League title challenge. 

Tuchel was appointed Blues head coach on Tuesday following Frank Lampard’s dismissal and his tenure got off to an underwhelming start a day later as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Wolves at Stamford Bridge. 

Despite enjoying 79 per cent possession and completing 820 passes – the highest totals by a team in their manager’s first Premier League game in charge since the 2003-04 campaign – the hosts could not find a way through against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. 

The result means Chelsea are eighth in the Premier League table having won just eight of their 20 games this season.

Tuchel scoffed at suggestions his side might be capable of closing the 11-point gap to leaders Manchester City – who have played a game less – and said his focus was on reining in fourth-place West Ham, who are five points clear. 

“The title, ooh, far away, we have to be realistic at the same time,” he told a media conference.

“When you sign for Chelsea as manager it’s absolutely right you sign for the expectation to fight for titles like the Premier League, Champions League and cups. 

“It’s absolutely clear, but at the same time we have to be realistic that there are a lot of teams and points between us and fourth.

“So maybe it’s the best time now to step up in the middle of the season, don’t lose focus and look too far ahead.

“Stay now and work on a daily basis on details and progression in our game, and points will follow.

“I’m absolutely sure we have the capacity with this squad to hurt everybody in every league and competition. It’s my job to bring evidence of that as fast as possible but now the approach is doing it step by step.”

The result means Tuchel is the first Chelsea manager since Rafael Benitez in November 2012 to draw his first game in charge of the club, with the Spaniard held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Despite their failure to claim all three points, Tuchel was encouraged by what he saw. 

“Yeah, it was well deserved for all the effort that the guys put in,” he added. “But I have to say I just walked in the dressing room and told everybody there’s no room for disappointment or doubt. 

“I’m very happy with the performance. We had good intensity and were very structured, we did not allow any dangerous counter-attacks. So we were very well organised, we were brave, we had courage and we played as a team.

“There was good input from the bench and a very good attitude from the players on the bench that did not come on. A very good spirit. 

“I think the supporters could have helped in all the half-chances. It was hard work but we never lost intensity and I’m very happy that this was our starting point, and very excited about where we’ll end up.

“This is the level now and we can start working on the details. We can prepare for Burnley and that’s what we’ll do.”

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