Over the next week, CareFreeChelsea will be releasing a series of articles reviewing the events of 2021 from a Chelsea perspective. Some panel pieces, others more in-depth analyses of individual moments that shaped the previous 12 months. We hope you enjoy this style of content and we hope to replicate similar in 2022. Let us know some of your memorable Chelsea moments in the comments under this piece.
“Please, don’t call me arrogant. Because what I am saying is true, I am European champion so I am not one of the bottle. I think I’m a special one.”
When Jose Mourinho uttered that iconic line in his very first press conference after arriving at Stamford Bridge, few could have foreseen the transformative effect the brazen Portuguese manager would have on Chelsea Football Club.
Almost 17 years later, another line was spoken that would foreshadow a similarly staggering transformation that lead to historic success.
Thomas Tuchel’s opening press conference as Chelsea head coach was by no means as brash as Mourinho’s.
There were no confrontational statements, a sense of someone having to prove their credentials to a new set of journalists.
What Tuchel’s opening remarks did was set the tone for his regime. It helped soothe a very fractured set of supporters during a time of deep divide nearing the end of a week engulfed in chaos.
“I can absolutely assume it’s a big, big disappointment for the fanbase to see that Frank [Lampard] was sacked.
“I can only repeat I have the biggest respect, I was a huge fan of Frank as a player, it was a huge joy to watch him play and to see how he played.
“He was one of the key figures to demonstrate in 90 minutes what Chelsea was about; intensity, devotion, winning mentality. And so I have the biggest respect for him personally and for his legacy.”
His words massively helped those disappointed with Lampard’s very recent departure, as Tuchel set about charming the Chelsea faithful with his demeanour and transparency.
A lot of the articles written about Tuchel’s character portrayed an obsessive tactician, someone who focused on the finer details, unique training methods and minor tweaks as he looked to change games.
That could have led to a pretty sterile and detached character in front of the media, something that hindered one of Tuchel’s predecessors, Maurizio Sarri’s connection with supporters.
“Success is also the make everyone in the stadium happy, everyone should be excited to come to Stamford Bridge, people should be excited to watch our team and people should feel that the team plays with a special energy and atmosphere.”
Tuchel was also asked about N’Golo Kante who, at the time, was having his future questioned with reports the French midfielder could be looking at a summer exit due to frustration over the constant change in coaches.
“I think he’s the strongest in the double six, the centre and the heart of the game. Gives him a little more freedom than when he plays a single six, what he can do.
“His ability to recuperate and recover balls everywhere on the pitch. He is a guy who is a big, big helper for everybody, with the mentality of a helper, a water carrier, but at the same time a world-class player who played a crucial role in the World Cup win for France.”
The other notable gem from his first press conference was his response to questions over Mason Mount, who had become a guaranteed starter under Lampard.
Tuchel had excluded Mount from his first starting lineup against Wolves, but his words on the Cobham talent expressed his deep admiration for his ability.
“There is nothing to worry about,” he said of Mount. “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%. He gives the 100% 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.”
Those words feel even more powerful now when reflecting on Tuchel’s first few months in charge.
Mount soon found his place back in the starting XI, but now in a more advanced position as one of Tuchel’s inside forwards in the 3-4-2-1 formation.
His performances, which were excellent under Lampard, only continued under Tuchel, now adding more attacking influence with a crucial winner away at Anfield in early March – the German boss’ first standout result at the helm of the Blues.
Although a lot of opening press conferences are filled with a sense of fresh optimism and intrigue, looking back on Tuchel’s words it’s hard not to feel that event was significant.
When the story of Tuchel at Stamford Bridge is written, his words from that memorable day will likely be included, especially given the fact he was holding the Champions League trophy aloft just four months later.
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Source by Football London