Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted responsibility for starting Saul Niguez against Aston Villa following the midfielder’s struggles.
The Spain international – on loan from Atletico Madrid – made his debut in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa. On paper, Chelsea looked like they dominated. However, Romelu Lukaku’s impressive second Blues debut helped them beat a Villa side who had the better first half.
Indeed, Saul had a role in giving Villa chances to equalise following Lukaku’s 15th-minute opener.
The midfielder enjoyed some good passing, but he also gave it away on a number of occasions. As such, Tuchel replaced him with Jorginho at half time.
Tuchel told Sky Sports: “It was hard to do, but I had the feeling that he struggled. He had some big mistakes, passing mistakes and errors. He struggled with the intensity.
“You could see that he’s not fully adapted, I think this is completely my responsibility, I thought he could just jump in and play for us on this level.
“I thought it was better to have Jorginho, who has a close connection with Thiago [Silva] to control the game a bit more there.”
Saul arrived from Atletico and La Liga, but has so far struggled to adapt to the intensity of the Premier League.
Asked how hard it is to settle in the English top flight, Tuchel added: “Very hard. You can do it [start a player] or you can not do it. I chose to do it, he was happy to do it.
“So now, I told him before, it’s my responsibility. He struggled a bit with ball losses and created some chances even for Aston Villa.
“It doesn’t change anything.”
Speaking during Sky Sports‘ half-time analysis of the match, Souness – watching the highlights – picked holes in Saul’s display.
Souness blasts Saul, Chelsea performance
“I’ll tell you something, there were four Villa chances and three of these, Saul’s involved in them,” the pundit said. “Sloppy passing here, ends up giving the ball to Villa.
“Not a great ball ultimately, there. But Villa have done really well, high energy, looked to try and get on the ball.
“That pass by Saul, it’s simple giving the ball away. He’s [Tuchel’s] got to get him off for me at half time, give him a chance to look at it.”
Chelsea return to action on Tuesday when facing Zenit St Petersburg in their first Champions League group stage game.