Kova will still be out, Ben Chilwell be out, and Callum [Hudson-Odoi] will still be out. Ton Rudiger was in training yesterday, same with Reece James. We have another training coming, and hopefully, they can do full training and give us the green light. We have hopes they can be in the squad a play tomorrow. The same with Andreas, we need another examination because he felt sick and will come back to training from today. Ross Barkley is sick as well and will not be in the squad.
A lot of talk about Manchester United in recent months. What is your take?
Well, over the last months, there was a lot of talk about Chelsea, so we will not be so heavily involved in the talks about Manchester United. I am personally very happy to play against Man United at Old Trafford. For me it is one of the biggest stages, one of the biggest stadiums and one of the biggest clubs and locations to play. I arrive with a strong club, a strong team – this is the best way to arrive as a coach.
I am very happy to have this match, and it will always be a big match for me, no matter which position and what current form they are in. That is why we prepare in the best possible way. We don’t reflect so much on their situation and what is going on in and around the club. We focus on their last matches, and we should not get confused by the lack of points. For me, this squad is full of quality, and we need to take care on the pitch.
Talk us through your close relationship with Ralf Rangnick…
The story is told. He was my coach when I was a third division player. He told us some stuff these days that we had never heard about. We don’t need to follow as a defender, we don’t need to follow our striker when he goes to the toilet. That common sense at this time, that you would just follow him around for 90 minutes.
He told us we can defend in a back four and defend in spaces, and he opened our eyes and brought big success to the little club where we played, and he went straight through and into the first division. On this run, I got injured, and later when he managed Stuttgart, he opened the door for me to the academy. He gave me the chance to make an internship with the under-17s. From there, I tried to be the best possible and also, he had his fantastic record in Germany to build up big clubs, to bring clubs to the very highest level and to build clubs from scratch. This is pretty much the story if I want to tell it as short as possible.
It’s nice to see him always. It’s tough to play against teams like his. We will maybe have time for a quick chat, five minutes, but contact is not on a daily or weekly basis.
READ MORE: Ralf Rangnick issues major Manchester United injury update ahead of Chelsea Premier League clash
What have other players made of the fact Antonio Rudiger is leaving?
I don’t think that anybody likes it because Toni has been a huge factor in our one and half seasons together. He gives everybody confidence in the dressing room, he is a unique character, he is an aggressive leader, he is available over 100% of the matches, like 90% of the matches he is simply available, and he plays on an outstanding level and gives you confidence if you play next to him or around him.
He takes the focus away from others. He takes responsibility. He loves responsibility. I don’t think that anybody likes this decision, but in the moment, we have to accept it, and we will accept it. Like it or not, there will be life at Chelsea after Toni. For him and for us, it is the most important thing that it ends like it started and like it was for one and half years, on the highest level possible. This is where the focus needs to be.
Manchester United vs Chelsea was once a title-decider, given the size of the clubs, it’s a shame now it’s not?
We would love to be, and I think Manchester United would love to be in a title-decider, but unfortunately, there are two other teams in red and blue who have a word to say and, over the last years, have made their point strongly. We have to accept it, and we have to try to close the gap and Man United as well. They played a huge role in last year’s campaign finishing second.
For me, Man U is one of the biggest clubs, a very famous club, a very successful club. I am very grateful, very excited to play there and arrive with a strong team. We arrive to win, we arrive to play for the victory, and this is a great feeling. I am not concerned about Man United because, first of all, it is not my job, and second of all, they will always recover because the club is a huge club, and the squad is full of individual talent. I am not involved, we have enough to do here.
Chelsea have not beaten them in the Premier League at Old Trafford since 2013, now a good time to change that?
Always a good time for the win. No matter if you won the last match or last two against the same opponent. A win is always the next match. It just shows it is not easy. These kind of streaks exist in football. Against some opponents, it is harder to get victories. Obviously, Manchester United is this kind of opponent for us. With all the respect we have for the history, occasion and quality of Man U, we try to win, and we will arrive to win. We prepare to win this match and see what questions are asked and what the game demands, and how the momentum shifts or not.
This is pretty much it. It is not so much now or never because they are struggling with results recently. We prepare all the time to have the feeling now or never. We try to prepare in the best way possible and win the match tomorrow. Chelsea and Man United, as a football fan and a big fan of the Premier League, it is a big match, and I would always watch it. To be a part of it would be nice.
Reece James is recovering from injury, and you’ve mentioned about him playing in the back three, is that permanent or a return to wing-back next season?
Would love to have two Reece James’ to have the problem (of best position) solved! It is 55% towards wing-back, 45% towards back three. It depends how the opponent plays against us, do we expect a lot of possession, how is their structure for offensive transition. For this can sometimes be helpful for Reece to play in back three and be the first guy to cover in transition and not be involved in the attack. So we have his speed and physicality, and protection of the opponent’s counter-attacks. These are the thoughts.
I am leaning more into that his very best position is wing-back, where he is maybe more decisive, more useful. It is more demanding. His next step is to be a regular over 50, 55, 60 matches player. From there we have to decide. Both positions are filled with top quality with him.
You’ve got the best out of Rudiger, are you confident whatever squad you have that, you can produce a team that can make Chelsea competitive?
Yes. It is my job. In the end, it is my job. No matter how the situation will be solved and when it will be solved. No matter how active we can be in the transfer market, can we react in which frame? At the end, we will dig in and try to squeeze out everything from our squad.
Hopefully. I know myself, I will fall in love with the squad I have then and try to push the squad to the limit. It was a pleasure every day with Toni, and I am a bit concerned we talked too much in the past about it. There are still things we have not reached all of our goals this season. There are big things to achieve, and he is still a big part of this club. We still demand 100% from him. This is where the focus is then from pre-season, next season, life will go in whether we like it or not. From pre-season next season, we will give our very best, and I will be fully involved with all my heart and all of my knowledge.
A couple of weeks ago, you set Ruben Loftus-Cheek some standards and goals, he’s been involved recently, could you give us an update on him?
The same situation for him, he is influential and involved in goals lately, which is very good. He needs to push himself to the limit that is the challenge because is so physical and can be so physical. Had a bit of a shy game against Arsenal, like everyone. A calm first-half against Crystal Palace and then suddenly stepped up in the second-half in dribbling and physically with ball recoveries. Suddenly the crowd was there, and the momentum was there. This is what we demand from him.
In general, he is shy and a very calm person. He needs to discover this monster in him and unleash this on a regular basis because it is absolutely necessary. It is not enough to be just on the pitch. It might if you regard his last years, it may seem as a first step, good that he is a regular, but I’m not happy because this is not enough. We cannot let him think it is enough, he needs to constantly push himself to the limit.
We try every day and are quite successful given his development. He needs to understand how much potential he has and unleash this physical capacity on a daily basis. In training, he cannot let loose. He needs to be under pressure and play every game like a cup final.
Source by Football London