In the unnecessary Romelu Lukaku sideshow, Chelsea fans prove they are on Thomas Tuchel’s side


Tuchel was wild, jumpy and, however desperately he seemed to try, unable to keep his cool – just like his players. But crucially, they fought for him, coming back from two goals down.

Pulisic had spent the majority of the first 45 minutes being screamed at by Tuchel, but the American responded perfectly with his goal. If only Trevoh Chalobah had taken his coach’s plea to calm down a little more literally moments before he had stooped to try to head the ball at knee level, allowing Sadio Mane to open the scoring.

There was no doubt that Tuchel thought Mane should have been sent off after just 10 seconds for his foul on Cesar Azpilicueta. His protests and disbelief lasted for a good four minutes and he later howled into his jacket, pulled up over his face, when Var checked Mateo Kovacic’s brilliant volley. Fortunately, for just about everybody’s sanity, the goal was given. 

Tuchel alternated between signalling for his players to keep their calm and gesticulating madly at them and the officials. No wonder some of them, particularly Marcos Alonso after volleying a chance high and wide, pretended not to hear him.

Chalobah got a one-on-one tutorial during a break in play early in the second half and Alonso and Pulisic would have been relieved to be on the opposite side of the pitch to the 48-year-old after the restart. 

With his tracksuit bottoms a few inches too short and his bright white socks on show, Tuchel could barely keep his seat. He was up again to demand louder support from the fans as his team struggled to stop Liverpool regaining the lead and Edouard Mendy made a couple of superb saves.

When Liverpool’s stand-in goalkeeper Caoimhi Kelleher made an excellent stop of his own to prevent Pulisic giving Chelsea the lead, Tuchel had been ready to explode but instead put his hands to his head.

Tuchel had claimed that the “noise” around Lukaku’s interview, in which the £97.5milion man had revealed he had been unhappy with his situation, had persuaded him, with the help of Chelsea’s leadership group, to drop the 28-year-old from his squad.

It meant that when he looked to his left down the touchline and watched his substitutes warm up, Tuchel did not have a recognised striker to call on and there will be justifiable debate over whether or not benching Lukaku and leaving open a redemption storyline might have been a better each-way bet.

Kai Havertz would surely have been replaced had Lukaku or Timo Werner, who is still feeling the effects of Covid after returning to training, had been sat behind Tuchel.

The German international did not provide much threat to Ibrahima Konate, other than flattening the defender, in for Joel Matip, with a strong aerial challenge just before Callum Hudson-Odoi took over from him as a makeshift striker for the final 10 minutes or so.

Just as the game finally started to settle down, so too did Tuchel, spending more time with his arms folded. But he clapped high above his head when Mendy saved Chelsea for one final time and, ahead of a late corner, summoned the home crowd who responded without a second thought.

It might not have been a victory on the pitch for Chelsea and Tuchel, but, for the fans, it seems there is only one winner between the head coach and their star signing.


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