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Why Thomas Tuchel yelled at Michael Oliver as Antonio Rudiger decision creates Chelsea problem

Thomas Tuchel’s late fire

There was a strange malaise for a large part of yesterday’s game at Stamford Bridge. On the pitch, Chelsea’s players shifted the ball around without purpose. Their possession was far too slow, safe, and weary to hurt West Ham, who defended on the edge of their penalty box well.

That, in turn, led to very little reaction from those Chelsea supporters in the stands. And in the home dugout, Tuchel sat alongside his assistants and made little attempt to cajole his players. The only occasion in an opening 45 minutes that the German did get to his feet was to dish out a few instructions to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, deployed at right wing-back in the absence of the injured Reece James

“I did not expect a spectacular game in general, and the first half was a bit stuck,” Tuchel said after the game. “But that was because of a bit of uncertainty after the latest results here at home. We grew into it, never lost discipline, we never lost patience, understood the situation better when to accelerate, and we joined a bit with more courage and players when the acceleration was there.”

It wasn’t until midway through the second half that Tuchel displayed the touchline theatrics that have become a staple of his tenure. And it was referee Michael Oliver the Chelsea supporters had to thank for shaking the German coach out of his slumber. After the referee didn’t award a foul when N’Golo Kante was brought down, Tuchel jumped to his feet to complain to the fourth official.

He turned, put on his Gillet, and took his usual position on the edge of his technical area. The beast inside had been awoken, and that was never more clear than when Oliver awarded a free-kick to West Ham and the Chelsea head coach spun on his hell and yelled: “This is a joke! It’s a joke!”

Tuchel’s renewed vigour didn’t quite have the effect on his players that was needed. But as the game ticked into stoppage time, Christian Pulisic slotted home what proved to be a late and important winner. “We grew into it and created more chances minute to minute in the second half and then got the winner,” Tuchel said. “Me personally, I don’t know if there is any otherway to play against them.”

Jorginho backed after penalty miss

Before Pulisic struck the winner, Jorginho had the opportunity to win the game for Chelsea from the penalty spot after Craig Dawson pulled down Romelu Lukaku. But the Italian’s trademark jumping technique let him down the Lukasz Fabianski was left with the easiest of saves.

Yet Tuchel was quick to defend his midfielder and first-choice penalty taker after the game, highlighting Jorginho’s 100% record for Chelsea this term from 12 yards. “Jorgi has – or had – the perfect record with us. So we all believed we had finally the chance to score the goal we needed,” the Blues head coach said.

“He has a certain style of shooting, and when he scores – as he had done at a 100% level – it looks unbelievably cool and calm and composed. But when he misses, it looks like he could’ve done better. But it’s style, and he is right to stick to it. He is upset with himself and happy that Puli turned things around.”

Rudiger decision creates Chelsea problem

Antonio Rudiger has decided to leave Chelsea when his contract expires in the summer. football.london reported that news on Saturday, and Tuchel confirmed the centre-back had informed him of his decision in a private chat. Given the German’s form over the past 18 months, it is a blow for the Blues.

“I fought hard on a personal level – and we’ve had this kind of connection from day one,” Tuchel stated during his post-match press conference. ” He deserves my full support because he delivered incredible performances, so reliable. So it was a give and take. I know he is very aware of it. “I am just happy to have had the chance to coach him and have him in the team because he was nothing but brilliant until today.

“The club did as well, we had big offers for him, and the club tried everything. But for some weeks, we can’t fight anymore because of the sanctions. We could not adjust or continue, so it is what it is. It will be challenging [to replace him], but like always, no matter how much I love Toni and how big a role he played, there will be Chelsea without Toni Rudiger. We will find solutions.”

Quite what those solutions will be is unclear. Until the takeover of the club is completed, Chelsea can’t plan with intent ahead of the summer transfer window. Outlooks and approaches are unknown. Budgets haven’t been set. The club is very much in limbo ahead of an important summer transfer window.

Of course, there is a possible internal solution: Levi Colwill. The 18-year-old has proved himself one of the brightest young defenders in European football this season with a series of outstanding performances for Championship promotion chasers Huddersfield Town. And having naively let go of Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi over the past 12 months, Chelsea would be foolish not to give Colwill a first-team role

However, it would be some leap for Colwill to play 50 games next term. He is not an out-an-out Rudiger replacement in that sense – and he certainly doesn’t have the experience and aggressivity of the 29-year-old, who has become a cult hero since the arrival of Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

One experiment Tuchel could run – once Champions League football for next season is secured – is to use Trevoh Chalobah on the left of the back three. The academy graduate, after a month out of the first-team fold, returned against West Ham and, barring one occasion in the opening period that he was caught in possession, produced a solid display

That was done on the right of the three-man backline, but Chalobah gained plenty of experience on the left during his loan spell at Lorient last term. And given the continued uncertainty Chelsea are working in ahead of the summer – and the many unknowns that will be present after the takeover is completed – it may make sense for Tuchel to test out Chalobah as a potential in-house Rudiger heir.

 

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