Thomas Tuchel didn’t make his post-game comments about himself following Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Tottenham when he very well could have done so, instead praising the spirit of his squad as the determining factor in the positive result.
His outlook perhaps gave a hint of how he might try to rebuild the confidence of his players after the end of the Frank Lampard era, rife with finger-pointing, seemed to pick them apart.
Tuchel remains unbeaten as Chelsea’s boss and has taken six of eight possible Premier League points. He emphasized it has been his players, many of whom were scapegoats as of a couple of weeks ago, that are responsible for the change in the club’s momentum.
“It’s not about my methods. I’m happy with the attitude, the squad, the potential,” Tuchel said.
“They are fine guys, it’s a nice group and they are open. It’s a pleasure to be around them. We have a lot of support in the whole club. It was a quick start but an easy one because I feel very welcome.
“We defended very actively and brave.”
Chelsea took the lead in the 24th minute through a Jorginho penalty and generally bossed the first half, maintaining a bulk of the possession.
They were less dominant late on but prevented serious threats outside of one glaring late miss from Spurs forward Carlos Vinicius in front of net.
“It is not only about tactics, it’s about how we play and live it,” Tuchel told BT Sport.
“They lived it 100 percent with full power and intensity. We never lost the belief, faith or courage to push high and for that you have to be brave and we were.”
Chelsea were forced to play the final 54 minutes without defensive leader Thiago Silva, who exited with what Tuchel deemed a muscle injury to his leg.
A narrow away victory under those circumstances was a pleasing result that could help lift the likes of Timo Werner and Mason Mount, who have taken criticism from several fronts this season. Werner won the first-half penalty, and Mount was the primary midfield threat for the Blues.
Intentional or not, Tuchel’s player-first reaction Thursday could set the tone for a team that now sits sixth in the Premier League, four points off the top four.
It all came after the man on the opposing touchline, Jose Mourinho, tried some of his patented mind games earlier in the week to try and get Tuchel to boast about his own achievements.
Mourinho said: “Tuchel was coming from a league that you cannot compare with the Premier League” in a jab at his rival’s trophy-filled tenure with Paris Saint-Germain.
Tuchel didn’t engage with Mourinho on that point, though, nor did he use Chelsea’s subsquent win over Tottenham as a chance to gloat. His next, arguably much more difficult test will be resisting self-absorption and defensiveness in the moments Chelsea’s results aren’t so satisfying.