Premier League • England

Tuchel sack theory draws ‘worried’ admission from Neville amid Chelsea dip

Samuel Bannister
Thomas Tuchel shrugs during Newcastle vs Chelsea, October 2021

The idea that Thomas Tuchel could be under pressure at Chelsea has been dismissed by Gary Neville – who nevertheless admitted the manager may be “worried”.

Chelsea could not find a way past Wolves on Sunday, playing out a goalless draw. They have now won just one of their last five matches in all competitions. It has marked a contrast from their early season form, and that which led them to Champions League glory last season.

Chelsea are hoping to challenge for the Premier League title this season. They topped the league between matchdays seven and 14, but then dropped to third. Currently, they are six points behind leaders and champions Manchester City.

There have been factors behind Chelsea’s downturn in form. Injuries in midfield have not helped. While they wanted the Premier League to postpone the Wolves game due to Covid-19 cases.

But the lineup they sent out for it – at least in terms of the starters – was still strong. Therefore, the fact that they could not break the deadlock may have been a concern. It was the first time they have failed to score since a Champions League loss to Juventus in September.

Although they have only lost one game in December, their form has still not been of the standard required. Knowing how ruthless the club can be with their managers, it was put to pundit Neville that Tuchel may be feeling the pressure.

However, the Sky Sports man feels Tuchel’s recent achievements will be enough to give him extra job security.

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Neville said: “I think he’s got enough credit in the bank.

“I know it’s a club that does things very differently. But I’d hate to think that Thomas Tuchel is under pressure and they’re thinking of making a change, I can’t believe that to be the case.

“I think he’ll be a little bit worried – I think mentally when you try to get a game called off and you’re then told to play it, I can’t think that will help the mindset in that game.

“I know they didn’t have a full bench, and we’ll have to ask later why more young players couldn’t come onto it. But it was a strong Chelsea team.”

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Tuchel pleased with Wolves performance

Despite the concerns Neville raised, Tuchel was happy with his side’s reaction to difficult circumstances. After all, he never wanted them to play the game.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Tuchel said: “I don’t care about the point.

“I am pleased with the performance, especially in the second half. The first half was a bit of a struggle for us. We had to grow into the game.

“Some players [Trevoh Chalobah and Christian Pulisic] had to adapt to new positions. We are not lucky enough in these moments to win games. But I am happy with how we played. It was nice to coach from the sideline.

“Wolves don’t concede many chances or goals. We could not expect to create an awful lot but we tried and never stopped trying. The second half was very strong and given the circumstances I am happy with the performance.”

Tuchel then turned the heat on the Premier League by warning they may refuse to play if their number of positive cases increases.

He added: “I gave my opinion. The club gave its opinion. We talk a lot about safety and protecting the players; not so sure we did this today. On we go.

“If we have tomorrow and the next test and the next positive I would like to speak to the Premier League about what they expect. If they make us play against Brentford shall we not arrive or not train? What should we do?

“Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. We had an opinion and the Premier League had an opinion. We agree to disagree.”

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