Christian Pulisic gets a boost and thank-you from new Chelsea manager despite lineup snub

A coaching change didn't alleviate Chelsea's problems.

Less than 24 hours after he was officially hired as the replacement for Frank Lampard, German Thomas Tuchel was on the sidelines for his first game with the Blues.

Chelsea produced a record-setting performance against Wolves, but it ended in futility.

The Blues completed 433 passes in the first half, their most in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since such stats were introduced in the 2003-04 season, and 820 passes in the game -- the most in a Premier League game this season but they could find the net in a match that ended 0-0.

The result left Chelsea in a tie for 8th place in the Premier League, five points out of the top four and 11 points behind leader. Complicating its task of returning to the UEFA Champions League next season: the three teams ahead of it all have one or two games in hand.

The situation is not where Christian Pulisic figured to find himself after Chelsea finished a very respectable third in the Premier League last season, his first in England, and he scored nine goals in 1,727 minutes. This season, Pulisic has scored one Premier League goal in 889 minutes.

Pulisic began the Wolves match on the bench, though Tuchel, who coached him during his first two seasons with Borussia Dortmund, said nothing bad should be read into his decision.

Tuchel, who replaced Lampard's 4-3-3 formation with a 3-5-2 alignment, said he told Pulisic he knew what he could do and wanted to learn about Chelsea's other players.

"In Christian, for sure, I know very well what he is capable of," said Tuchel afterward. "He had a big, big input, it was an unfair decision for him today to not start, I told him it was only because I know what he can bring from the bench. I am not sure sure what the others can do, but I know you can bring things for us and absolutely change it for us."

Tuchel, who was fired as Paris St. Germain coach over the Christmas holidays, described Pulisic's play as "amazing" and thanked him for his support.

"He told me at halftime, ‘Coach, you have been pronouncing the name Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] wrong,’" said the 47-year-old German, "so he helped me with that."

Photo by Nikola Krstic/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire

8 comments about "Christian Pulisic gets a boost and thank-you from new Chelsea manager despite lineup snub".
  1. frank schoon, January 28, 2021 at 10:07 a.m.

    Tuchel's explanation, 'football talk' to Pulisic is about as meaningful as what you get from the typical soccer journalist about soccer. 
    Sorry to say, 3-5-2 is not a system for Pulisic to play in....more Turbo, counter attacking soccer, lot of running, less 'soccer-thinking'. Obviously , Tuchel is worried that he doesn't want to end up like Lampard ,who ,I think, didn't get a fair chance,  but that is the style and manner of how Chelsea's leadership deals with coaches. Just look at the list of good coaches they have had and 'how many' in the past decade. There is no way this club can build a dynasty of good soccer. So I can understand Tuchel wants to play it safe and more defensive, while at the same he's looking where he can go next, if this doesn't work out...

    Chelsea is very similar to InterMilan of Italy in their approach to soccer. Both teams are more interested in results than good soccer and they don't have a plan to follow like an Ajax or Barcelona in how to approach soccer on long term basis. Instead they buy players every year or and coach to make the team successful in the short term. 

    I would like to see Pulisic leave and go to Spain, and GET AWAY from TURBO BALL....and that means England and Germany.....

  2. Seth Vieux replied, January 28, 2021 at 11:27 a.m.

    Agreed Frank, tough to see how a player like Pulisic really fits well in the 3-5-2 Tuchel used yesterday. Seeing him as a wingback, yes his speed and dribbling ability are qualities needed for that (though exceptional 1v1 dribbling is far from a requirement), but his service has never been particularly impressive, and while I've seen him as a hard working defender as a wing, tackling and tracking marks is certainly a weakness for him. I suppose it remains to be seen whether Tuchel intends for this to be his primary system; it wasn't when he was at BVB and don't recall seeing it in the much fewer number of PSG games I watched. But if it is I think Pulisic will see quite a lot of the bench. Will Tuchel see the result as evidence they'll rely on something else, or will he look at the impressive possession and reasonable number of chances created as evidence this will work well with his player pool? Unfortunately I think Ziyech also falls into an awkward fit for 3-5-2, though not as bad as a mismatch as Pulisic. Ziyech is certainly able to play more centrally and distribute and create for others, but his abilities to do that in wide spaces is what makes him a really unique and special player.

  3. Seth Vieux replied, January 28, 2021 at 11:34 a.m.

    In many ways Chelsea have a player pool to make 3-5-2 effective, with tailor made wing backs for each side in James and Chillwell and 3 strikers to choose from that can be quite good if not for the current inconsistency. They really need Kanye back, who can cover for any defensive liabilities Kovacic or Jorghino would have beside him. Mount and Havertz are most suited to play underneath the forwards and Ziyech does as well, if in a quite different way.

    But in many ways I think this leaves Ziyech and Pulisic, for my money their two most talented attacking players, either left out completely or forced to play in roles that don't exploit their talents.

    And that comes back to the main problem with 3-5-2 for Chelsea: the squad they've built and invested so much money in was not put together with 3-5-2 in mind and with the injury issues so many of their players have shown, when the depth isn't there big troubles can follow.

  4. frank schoon replied, January 28, 2021 at 11:47 a.m.

    Seth, not only that, they have enough Turbo runners, especially from Germany who are older and feistier than Pulisic, meaning this will cut into his playing time. As far as Ziyech goes, he might be placed into the middle, for having 5mids. and be a distributor for someone has got have a brain out there. Ziyech won't be benched for he's able to lay off good passes on the run to anyone....But 3-5-2 is not what Ziyech grew up with playing in Holland,for there they tend to use the brain, skills and not the brawn....I would like to see Ziyech go to Spain....

  5. Ben Myers, January 28, 2021 at 11:57 a.m.

    I did not see yesterday's match, but mostly I found the Chelsea attack under Lampard appalling, almost always cramming the ball into the center channel against defenses that could pack in easily,  There was almost no service from the flanks, leaving Abraham, Giroud and Werner frustrated.  The 3-5-2 may be a short term experiment or it may be a more permanent Tuchel move.  No matter what, there needs to be variety in the attack and more service into the box. 

  6. Peter Bechtold, January 28, 2021 at 12:53 p.m.

    Misleading headline: If you followed the entire match you would have learned that Tuchel flew in 24 hours before the match, signed papers and went straight to Chelsea FC's training ground. After introducing himself he reportedly said that his main approach is Gegenpressing by winning balls back in the opponent's half. They accomplished that, he claimed. Selecting a line-up is easier with older, more experienced players after just one training session. His line-up was probably influenced by Thiago who had played under TT at PSG and not the result of some philosophical notion.
    If you saw the match, you could see TT being very active from the sidelines(in contrast to FL).
    Remember that Tuchel had the highest winning record of any coach in the history of PSG; give him a chance to see what he can do in the EPL. Results don't matter much early on(unless you are English (:-).

  7. frank schoon replied, January 28, 2021 at 1:13 p.m.

    Peter ,don't kid yourself, like Tuchel stated he watches EPL, Bundesliga, Spanish soccer and has played against and watched Chelsea play. He's not some innocent babe coming out of the woods. I'm sure he's called and talked with previous coaches while he was out of work to get an idea on the run of things at Chelsea.

    That he has the highest winning record says absolute nothing, considering all the money he has to buy players,  that's why he's looking for another job. Consider that PSG is the only big team in France with money, they are have beenthe flagship for years . I would like to have seen him coach another French team other than PSG to see how he would have done.

    Being very active on the sidelines??? What is that suppose to do? Does it make the players play better, become better skilled, smarter...?

  8. Bob Ashpole, January 29, 2021 at 4:59 a.m.

    My takeaway would be that figuring out how to beat a team is not the same as figuring out how to win with that same team in a league competition.

    I suspect that they played a 352 because they prepared a 352 for the match, and Tuchel simply went with it. So I don't give the 352 selection any significance. Now if they continue to play a 352, that would be significant.

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