Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel reveals good luck message from Frank Lampard as he vows to build on club legacy
Thomas Tuchel has urged Chelsea supporters to remain united as he vowed to build on the legacy Frank Lampard left him at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s decision to sack Lampard in favor of Tuchel at the start of this week proved to be a contentious one among supporters to whom the 42-year-old is a hero for his exceptional playing career. Many would have also liked to see the former manager given more time to blood youngsters such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James, who had been core figures in last season’s fourth-placed finish.
Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge Wednesday night with a banner reading “In Frank We Trust. Then. Now. Forever” on display in the Shed End after a supporter group raised funds in a bid to offer support for Lampard. His successor was at pains to suggest there were no ill feelings from the man he replaced as he tried to unite the Chelsea fanbase.
“A fan backlash I don’t know, I hope not,” Tuchel said. “That would be hard on the team, we need our supporters like any team in a stadium like ours, in a club like ours. To have the fans so close and so close behind the team really makes the difference.
“I can absolutely assume that it’s a big, big disappointment for the fanbase to see that Frank was sacked. I said this in the first statement and I can only repeat it, I have the biggest respect [for him]. I was a huge fan of Frank as a player. It was a pure joy to watch him play and to see how he played, with what personality he played. He was one of the key figures to demonstrate in 90 minutes what Chelsea is about: intensity, devotion, winning mentality. I have the biggest respect for him personally and his legacy.
“It just got bigger today in the morning when I received a personal message to wish me all the best and to maybe meet in the future when this is possible. Nothing has changed there. In the last 72 hours the club made clear to me this is not my fault and I cannot change the situation for him. The decision was made and I was handed the opportunity. I mean what I say.”
Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and subscribe to ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.
Tuchel’s tenure began with a 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday night in which only one academy graduate was named in the starting lineup, Callum Hudson-Odoi deployed in an unfamiliar right wing-back role in which he performed rather impressively.
Mason Mount had been captain in Lampard’s final match but was left on the bench for Tuchel’s first match, though the German insists that little should be read into a selection made off the back of one training session where he deliberately prioritized experience as Chelsea looked to break a run of five defeats in eight Premier League games. Certainly Mount did his cause no harm with a seven-minute cameo in which he nearly assisted Kai Havertz for what would have been a winner.
Tuchel might well contend that he does not need to prove his willingness to develop youngsters having brought Christian Pulisic into the Borussia Dortmund side whilst handing the midfield keys to a teenage Julian Weigl on his appointment in 2015. “I love to work with guys from the academy and we have a lot of Chelsea boys here in this squad that we will push to the limits,” he said.
On Mount, specifically, he added: “I like what I see from Mason so far, from his personality that I get to know now from three days. It’s amazing. Such a nice guy, such a competitive guy, such a lot of talent. And the most important — every game I watch so far he leaves his heart on the pitch.
“He cares for Chelsea 100 percent. He gives the 100 percent he has every time he plays and this is the best basis for a big development. I am very happy to have him around. I will not stop pushing him, I will not stop guiding him, I will not stop trusting him. There is absolutely nothing to worry about.”
Tuchel is acutely aware that success at Chelsea will not be defined by how he develops youngsters but instead what silverware he wins. The likes of Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte can assure him that even one trophy is not enough to always guarantee a lengthy tenure at Stamford Bridge.
Asked whether he was concerned by Chelsea’s record for swift changes in management when form is on the slide, Tuchel said: “Yes and no. I’m absolutely grateful that I can work on this level. If you sign for Chelsea you sign for the hunger of titles. You sign for being absolutely competitive in every competition you play. I’m totally aware of that.
“It does not scare me. We have big ambitions. Me myself I have the biggest ambitions. I’m very excited about the mixture of the team, I’m very excited about the structure of the club. The first days were amazing. I’m absolutely aware that at some point everybody expects results but honestly I’m doing that myself.”