UPDATED: Chelsea Sack Manager Tuchel After Dinamo Zagreb Defeat

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during a press conference at the Maksimir stadium, in Zagreb, on September 5, 2022, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League group E football match between Dinamo Zagreb and Chelsea. (Photo by Denis LOVROVIC / AFP)

 

Chelsea on Wednesday sacked manager Thomas Tuchel just seven games into the season following a chastening 1-0 Champions League defeat at Dinamo Zagreb.

The London club said in a statement they had “parted company” with the German, who led them to Champions League glory in 2021 and the Club World Cup crown earlier this year.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss, 49, leaves Stamford Bridge after less than 20 months in charge.

“On behalf of everyone at Chelsea FC, the club would like to place on record its gratitude to Thomas and his staff for all their efforts during their time with the club,” the Premier League club said in a statement.

“Thomas will rightly have a place in Chelsea’s history after winning the Champions League, the Super Cup and Club World Cup in his time here.”

The Stamford Bridge club, under new owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, defended the timing of the decision.

“As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition,” the statement said.

Chelsea are sixth in the Premier League table after three wins, one draw and two defeats in their opening six matches.

Chelsea’s coaching staff will take charge of the team as the club “moves swiftly to appoint a new head coach”.

Boehly’s consortium paid a world-record fee of £4.25 billion ($4.9 billion) for a sports franchise to buy Chelsea from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in May.

The ambitious US magnates are in the process of overhauling the club and have acted quickly to unseat Tuchel.

Champions League Glory

The German’s time at Stamford Bridge got off to a dream start as he picked up an expensively assembled but under-performing squad under Frank Lampard and turned them into European champions within months.

Tuchel revealed he was offered a two-year contract extension on the pitch by Abramovich after beating Manchester City 1-0 in Porto to win the club’s second Champions League title.

But things quickly unravelled for Chelsea on and off the pitch last season.

Abramovich was hit with UK sanctions after the government described him as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Tuchel kept the Blues afloat in trying circumstances as Chelsea reached the League and FA Cup finals, losing both on penalties to Liverpool, won the Club World Cup and finished third in the Premier League.

The new owners backed Tuchel heavily in the transfer market, with more than £200 million spent on players including Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But Boehly has followed Abramovich’s playbook in acting quickly to fire managers after a string of disappointing results.

Tuchel is the second Premier League manager to be fired this season after Bournemouth sacked Scott Parker last week.

Chelsea Boss Tuchel Given One-Game Ban After Spurs Red Card

Tottenham Hotspur’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte (R) and Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (L) shake hands then clash after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on August 14, 2022. The game finished 2-2. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Thomas Tuchel has been given a one-match suspension and fined £35,000 ($41,000) after the Chelsea manager was sent off following his furious clash with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, the Football Association (FA) said on Friday.

Tuchel’s touchline ban has been suspended temporarily, pending the full written reasons for the decision, allowing the German to take his place in the dugout for Sunday’s Premier League clash at Leeds.

Conte has been fined £15,000 after both managers admitted improper conduct following a pair of angry exchanges during last Sunday’s stormy 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Tuchel and Conte were booked after they first squared up to each other when the Italian celebrated Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s equaliser close to the Chelsea technical area.

Then, after Harry Kane headed Tottenham’s second equaliser deep into stoppage-time, Tuchel shook hands with Conte at the final whistle in such an aggressive way that it drew a fiery response from his counterpart.

The feuding bosses had to be separated by players and coaching staff, but were both sent off by referee Anthony Taylor.

“An independent regulatory commission has today ordered that Thomas Tuchel be fined £35,000 and banned from the touchline for one match, and Antonio Conte be fined £15,000 after they respectively breached FA Rule E3,” the FA said.

“Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte admitted that their behaviour after the final whistle of the Premier League game between Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC on Sunday, August 14 2022 was improper, and both managers requested a paper hearing.

“These sanctions are subject to appeal, and Thomas Tuchel’s one-match touchline ban has been suspended temporarily pending the independent regulatory commission’s written reasons for its decision that will be made available in due course.”

AFP

Tuchel And Conte Charged After Battle Of The Bridge

Tottenham Hotspur’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte (R) and Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (L) shake hands then clash after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on August 14, 2022. The game finished 2-2. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and Tottenham boss Antonio Conte have been charged with improper conduct after their explosive clashes in Sunday’s stormy 2-2 draw.

Tuchel and Conte were embroiled in two angry exchanges as tempers flared in the Premier League showdown at Stamford Bridge.

Both managers were booked for the first bust-up, which was sparked after Conte celebrated Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s equaliser close to Tuchel’s technical area.

Tuchel and Conte clashed again when an aggressive handshake between the pair, who were both shown red cards, sparked further ugly scenes involving players and coaching staff from the London rivals.

“Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte have both been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3, following the Premier League fixture between Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC on Sunday 14 August 2022,” an FA statement said on Monday.

“It is alleged that the behaviour of both managers was improper following the end of the fixture. Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte have until Thursday 18 August 2022 to provide their respective responses.”

Tuchel could also face further charges from the FA, who are probing his post-match comments about referee Anthony Taylor.

Tuchel said “maybe it would be better” for Taylor not to referee Chelsea again, with the German incensed about both of Tottenham’s goals.

He felt Hojbjerg’s effort should have been disallowed for offside against Richarlison, as well as a foul on Kai Havertz several seconds earlier.

Tuchel also insisted Tottenham defender Cristian Romero should have been punished for pulling Marc Cucurella’s hair, with a VAR check ruling out a red card for an incident that came just before Harry Kane headed the visitors’ stoppage-time equaliser.

Both managers could face a ban as a result of their antics, with Tuchel already conceding he might be absent from the touchline when Chelsea face Leeds next weekend.

“So, good! I cannot coach but the referee can whistle the next game,” he said after the Tottenham match.

The London derby, featuring a series of aggressive tackles from players on both teams, was dubbed ‘The Battle of the Bridge Part 2’ in reference to an equally feisty encounter between the teams in west London in 2016.

 

AFP

Tuchel Decides Against Signing Ronaldo – Reports

Photo of Thomas Tuchel and Cristiano Ronaldo

 

Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel, has decided against trying to sign Cristiano Ronaldo this summer.

The new owners of the club have been keen on bringing the Portuguese superstar to Stamford Bridge after his agent, Jorge Mendes, had met with the representatives of the club

However, according, to reports Tuchel has ended his interest in Ronaldo over what he has described as a “spotlight grabber’ as he would rather focus on promoting a team mentality rather than a short-term, individualistic solution.

The German believes the signing of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for £47.5m on Wednesday, suits his plan effectively.

It was also reported that the French giants Paris Saint-Germain also rejected the chance to move for Ronaldo whose chances of moving to big clubs fast becoming a debacle.

CNN Portugal has also claimed that a club in Saudi Arabia have offered to pay the 37-year-old £105m a year.

According to the reports, Manchester United will get around 35m euros, while. agents would get a reported 24m euros,

Tuchel Hints At Christensen Chelsea Exit

Photo of Chelsea defender, Andreas Christensen

 

Chelsea boss, Thomas Tuchel, has appeared to have given up hope on keeping Andreas Christensen at Stamford bridge come next season. 

Christensen pulled himself out of contention for Saturday’s in a repeat final defeat against Liverpool just hours before kick-off.

Barcelona are firm favourites to secure the Denmark international at the end of the season

Speaking in a post-match interview, the German bemoaned the difficulty the club is facing at the moment with regards to ownership uncertainty and the UK Government sanctions on the club in recent months which had caused players to want to leave,

‘Maybe it’s impossible because they are improving their squad in every transfer window they have and it seems like we are losing key players.”

“We are of course losing Toni [Rudiger] and we are losing Andreas [Christensen]. It’s tough because we already have a gap to close,” Tuchel said.

Christensen’s unexpected withdrawal from the team hotel on Saturday morning is understood to have bothered team-mates.

It has also been speculated that Christensen had indicated that he felt unwell in the days prior to the final, something that the Blues star relayed to his head coach before deciding on the morning of the game that he wasn’t physically ready to play.

Tuchel pinpointed consistency as the key as his side have drawn all four games against the Reds in normal time this season.

‘We proved four times this season that we can produce peak performances to compete with them on this kind of level. The difference for me throughout the season is that they can do it on Wednesday again and then they do it on Saturday and Wednesday again, and we struggle,” he said.

‘They have a bigger squad available. They arrived with everybody except Fabinho fresh and in the rhythm in a final like this. We struggled with three or four players out. N’Golo Kante had one training session at 50 per cent intensity, Mateo Kovacic played with an ankle that I didn’t know it was possible you can fit into a shoe.

However, Tuchel has maintained that the Champions League winners have what it takes to challenge for titles.

‘We have everything it takes to win trophies and we proved it already. Someone was trying to convince me that we have had a trophyless season but we have a World Cup and a European Super Cup so I will take that for a trophyless season. I don’t feel sorry just because it happened earlier in the season.’

Chelsea Haven’t Learnt From Its Mistakes, Says Tuchel

Photo of Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel

 

Chelsea boss, Thomas Tuchel, has criticised his side’s performance at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. 

The Champions League winners reject, Eddie Nketiah, exacted revenge on his former side with a double that inspired a dramatic 4-2 win and boosted Arsenal’s bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Despite goals from Timo Werner and captain Cesar Azpilicueta that twice hauled Chelsea level the Gunners pulled away in the second half and claimed an important victory, leaving Tuchel to bemoan what might have been.

Speaking in a post-match interview, an irate Tuchels’ description of the match was that of a “totally wild and open game in the first half”

‘We robbed ourselves of the chance to have six minutes maybe for the equaliser. There is nothing more to analyse. We proved in the last three matches and thought we learned our lessons from Brentford and Real Madrid but obviously not,’ the 48-year-old German coach stated.

‘Look at the penalty. It’s an unbelievable goal, from our ball possession after we had three-ball losses in 10 seconds and then we do a foul when there’s not even the slightest danger.”

A huge miss from Chelsea’s defence was Antonio Rudiger who suffered a knock before the match and has arguably been one of the side’s better players in recent matches.

In spite of strong performances from the German player, Tuchel was quick to wave aside any notion of frailties. in the defensive department with the absence of the 29-year-old stalwart.

‘We conceded seven goals with Toni against Brentford and Real Madrid so it’s not about individual players. It’s about the defensive performance as a team. You need to have the tactics right, which is doubtful if I had this right, and you need the team selection right, which is also doubtful if I had this right.”

‘Then it’s a game for the players. They get the full praise when they do it as they did in the last three matches so they have to face the reality that it’s simply impossible to win matches like this if you make this amount of mistakes of this calibre.”

 

Guardiola Sympathises With Chelsea’s Tuchel After Sanctions

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 18, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 18, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits he has sympathy for Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel after the European champions were hit by tough sanctions placed on Blues owner Roman Abramovich.

The Russian billionaire was one of seven oligarchs targeted Thursday by the UK government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, all described as part of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Abramovich last week announced he was selling the club but now his UK assets have been frozen, with strict restrictions placed on Chelsea, including over the signing of new players and ticket sales.

Tuchel, as the face of Chelsea, has found himself in the position of de facto club spokesman on the Abramovich situation in recent weeks.

Guardiola, speaking to the reporters, conceded it was an awkward situation for a football manager to deal with.

“When there was Covid we were asked to talk like doctors on the medicine, the vaccines,” he said. “It looks like when we speak here we have to know absolutely everything.

“We are the face of the club, we are right here every three days, so you ask whatever you want, but you have to understand that there are subjects we don’t know, and we don’t have a one-hour lesson to speak or talk about what you are asking for.

 

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 21, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

“It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.”

The sanctions cast uncertainty over the immediate future of Chelsea, who had been linked with a series of potential new billionaire owners over the past week.

Asked about the implications of a Premier League rival being so dramatically hampered, Guardiola would only say: “I don’t have enough opinions, sorry. I saw the headlines but I don’t know exactly the reason why what happened.

“The reason why there is this ban? I don’t know the reason why. For something wrong with the club? For the war in Ukraine? Europe? Russia? I don’t know.”

AFP

Tuchel Slams Chelsea Fans For Singing Abramovich’s Name In Ukraine Applause

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel takes a training session on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 10, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo,  Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel takes a training session on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 10, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Thomas Tuchel has slammed the Chelsea fans who chanted Roman Abramovich’s name during a minute’s applause for war-torn Ukraine before Saturday’s 4-0 win against Burnley.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Premier League clubs held a pre-match moment of solidarity with the country before every game this weekend and the majority of fans joined the applause at Turf Moor.

However, a section of the travelling Chelsea support interrupted the applause to sing the name of the club’s Russian owner.

Abramovich this week announced he will sell the Champions League holders amid speculation he could be sanctioned by the British government for his alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Chelsea boss Tuchel was disappointed with the fans who chose not to respect the show of support for Ukraine.

READ ALSO: Man City Humiliate United, Extend Premier League Lead

“It’s not the moment to do this. If we show solidarity we show solidarity and we should do it together,” he said.

“We take the knee together. If an important person from our club or another club unfortunately dies we have a minute of respect.

“It is not the moment to give other messages. It’s the moment to show respect. We want to do this. As a club we need our fans to commit to this minute of applause.

“We do it for Ukraine and there is no second opinion about this situation. They have our thoughts and our support and we should stand together. It’s not the moment for other messages.”

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel touches the trophy on the stage at the end of the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup final football match against Brazil’s Palmeiras at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on February 12, 2022. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Chelsea have won 19 major trophies in Abramovich’s 19-year reign, including five Premier League titles, two Champions League, and the Club World Cup.

Abramovich is reportedly seeking £3 billion ($4 billion) to off-load Chelsea, with Turkish billionaire Muhsin Bayrak the latest wealthy investor to declare his interest in a potential deal.

Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss and American businessman Todd Boehly, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, have reportedly formed a partnership with a view to making a bid.

AFP

Not The Time To ‘Make Jokes’ About Lukaku, Says Tuchel

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel gives a post match interview after the English FA Cup final football match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north west London on May 15, 2021. (Photo by Nick Potts / POOL / AFP)

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said on Monday that Romelu Lukaku should not be made fun of after the £98 million ($133 million) striker had just seven touches in the weekend’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.

Last Saturday’s figure is the fewest number of touches registered by any player who completed the 90 minutes since such data was first recorded in 2003.

Tuchel was grilled on how to get the best from the Belgian, who the Blues signed for a club record fee in August, ahead of his side’s return to Champions League action against Lille in the last 16.

Chelsea won the Champions League without Lukaku last season, but his signing was made with the intention of challenging for the Premier League title.

READ ALSO: After Beijing Winter Olympics, China Eyes World Cup Goal

The 28-year-old has just five Premier League goals so far in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, three of which came in his first three appearances.

The seeming incompatibility between Lukaku and the rest of his teammates was summed up by the scarcity of his involvement at Selhurst Park as Chelsea escaped with a late win thanks to Hakim Ziyech’s strike.

“It’s not what we want and not what Romelu wants but it’s not the time to laugh about him and make jokes,” Tuchel said.

“He is in the spotlight and we will protect him because he’s our player.”

Tuchel defended accusations that it is his preferred 3-4-3 system that Lukaku is failing to adapt to.

Lukaku was dropped for a vital clash against Liverpool on January 2 after voicing his frustrations as Tuchel’s style of play in a December interview with Sky Italia.

However, the German coach pointed to the struggles of other strikers at Chelsea in recent seasons prior to his arrival such as Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata and Timo Werner to prove his point that Lukaku is not an isolated case.

“There’s even a history of strikers struggling a little bit at Chelsea so it’s not the easiest place in the world for strikers but I don’t know exactly why it’s like this,” he added.

“We had many games throughout the year together where we created many chances but struggled a bit in the conversion. Now at the moment it’s a time where we struggle to create too many big chances for our strikers and I think this is a normal period in a long season.

“We are well aware of it but like most of the time in football, there’s not one way to solve a problem. It’s a very complex sport and we try to keep on playing with belief in the team effort.”

Even despite Lukaku’s struggles, Chelsea are strong favourites to reach the last eight of the Champions League against the French champions.

Lille sit 11th in Ligue 1, having failed to hit the heights of last season when they shocked Paris Saint-Germain to claim the title.

Chelsea have fallen 13 points behind Manchester City in the battle for the Premier League, but have a perfect record of reaching four finals in knockout competitions under Tuchel.

“We should not think too much of how others could see us as the favourites against Lille,” said Tuchel.

“We are confident of having a good performance because we deliver on a high level in knockout matches, cup matches and Champions League matches.”

 

AFP

Tuchel Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (C) meets match officials before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London. PHOTO: AFP

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel could miss his side’s trip to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup after testing positive for COVID-19.

The German will not be in the dugout for Chelsea’s FA Cup fourth-round clash with Plymouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and will be absent for the squad’s flight out to the Middle East after the game.

“Thomas Tuchel has tested positive for Covid-19,” read a Chelsea statement.

READ ALSO: Lampard Begins Everton Reign As Minnows Kidderminster Aim To Topple West Ham

“The Chelsea head coach will now follow necessary self-isolation protocols and hopes to join up with the team in Abu Dhabi later next week. The team fly out for the Club World Cup following this afternoon’s FA Cup clash with Plymouth Argyle.”

Tuchel could still travel later in the week should he test negative with Chelsea’s Club World Cup semi-final set to take place on Wednesday against either Asian champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia or the UAE’s Al Jazira.

AFP

Chelsea Must Improve Attitude, Admits Tuchel

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 18, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 18, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted his side need to improve their attitude for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham if they are to avoid a battle just to remain in the top four.

The Blues’ title challenge has evaporated over the past two months after a run of one win in seven league games.

Tuchel’s men were below par in a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Tuesday that left them 12 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City, having played a game more than the champions.

READ ALSO: England To Host Côte d’Ivoire As Part Of World Cup Build-Up

“I could see, I could feel from myself and from the team, that some emotions took over, maybe frustration, maybe disappointment,” said Tuchel of his side’s display in midweek.

“We have to make sure we are in a different attitude and a different mindset, and in top shape, because we have a big match coming on Sunday.”

Tottenham’s miraculous comeback from 2-1 down after 94 minutes to win 3-2 at Leicester on Wednesday means Spurs head to Stamford Bridge eight points behind third-placed Chelsea, but with four games in hand.

West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester United also have games in hand on the European champions in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.

A total of 22 Premier League games have been postponed in recent weeks, with playing squads depleted by coronavirus and injuries.

“It’s strange to see the fixture and see teams competing for the same area of the table and having four games less,” said Tuchel.

“This can lead to a wrong impression that you’re comfortably ahead when you are not. So we have to make sure that this stays like this.”

AFP

Chelsea Take Control As Spurs Stutter In League Cup Semi

Chelsea players celebrate after Tottenham Hotspur's Welsh defender Ben Davies (unseen) scored an own goal during the English League Cup semi final football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge, in London on January 05, 2022. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Chelsea players celebrate after Tottenham Hotspur’s Welsh defender Ben Davies (unseen) scored an own goal during the English League Cup semi final football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge, in London on January 05, 2022. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Thomas Tuchel warned Chelsea their League Cup semi-final against Tottenham is not over yet after they took control of the tie with a 2-0 first leg win on Wednesday.

Tuchel’s side are within touching distance of a first League Cup final appearance since 2019 after brushing aside Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Kai Havertz put Chelsea ahead with a deflected strike before Ben Davies’s farcical own goal increased their lead before half-time.

READ ALSO: Australia To Deport Djokovic Over COVID-19 Vaccination

Although Chelsea were unable to completely kill off their London rivals, they head to Tottenham for the second leg on January 12 as firm favourites to reach the final against Liverpool or Arsenal.

Liverpool’s semi-final first leg, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed until next week after a significant coronavirus outbreak among Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

Chelsea’s victory was their first in three games, building on their spirited fightback from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Liverpool on Sunday.

“It seems like a deserved win, an excellent result because it reflects the game. We could have scored more but it is hard to score against Tottenham,” Tuchel said.

“We did create a lot, some huge chances. The up-side is everybody knows it is going to be a tough match in the second leg. It’s not decided yet.”

With Romelu Lukaku back in the fold, albeit once again looking far from his best, Tuchel will hope he has navigated a storm that threatened to derail Chelsea’s season.

Lukaku, Chelsea’s club record £97.5 million ($132 million) signing from Inter Milan last year, was dropped for the Liverpool game after he gave an interview that featured criticism of the way he was being used by Tuchel.

But Tuchel said he held “calm” talks with the Belgium striker on Monday and restored him to the team to face Tottenham after he issued an apology.

“I was pretty sure he was not affected. Even the last days he seemed relaxed, fine with the situation and mentally moved on,” Tuchel said.

“Romelu can handle pressure and adversity, it was a good performance, he contributed a lot to our defensive set up and had chances.”

‘It was a difficult game’

Ironically, Lukaku’s return came against Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, who got the best out of him during their Serie A-winning spell together at Inter.

Conte was back at Chelsea for the first time since being sacked in 2018 despite winning the Premier League and FA Cup in his two-year reign.

The Italian claimed earlier this season that Chelsea had yet to work out how to get the best out of Lukaku, but he has plenty of work to do with his own team on the evidence of Tottenham’s spluttering display.

“It was a difficult game. Chelsea were much better than us. If you compare the teams there is not a comparison,” Conte said.

“Today we have seen the difference between the teams. If we think we are close (to Chelsea), I think we are not in the right way.”

Lukaku was greeted with surprisingly little venom from the Chelsea fans, a reception perhaps helped by their side making the perfect start in the fifth minute.

Japhet Tanganga played Emerson Royal into trouble deep inside the Tottenham half and Marcos Alonso pounced to steal possession.

Alonso slipped his pass behind the out of position Tanganga to Havertz, whose close-range shot deflected in off Davinson Sanchez for his first goal since November 6.

Although Chelsea were without Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante after they tested positive for the coronavirus, the European champions dominated from start to finish.

Lukaku had a role in Chelsea’s second goal in the 34th minute as his persistence drew a foul from Sanchez.

Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick should have been easily dealt with by Tanganga, but the hapless centre-back headed it straight at Davies, who had no chance of getting out of the way as it rebounded off his shoulder into the net.

 

AFP