Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Thomas Tuchel was responding to remarks by Gary Neville

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel used a press conference on Friday to defend the club's new owner Todd Boehly over accusations that he has been "panicky" in the transfer market and has acted almost like he is playing a football video game.

American Boehly, who also part-owns Major League Baseball outfit the Los Angeles Dodgers, bought the west Londoners from Roman Abramovich for Pound 4.5 billion ($5.4 billion) as a part of a consortium in May, after the Russian businessman was sanctioned for alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Marina Granovskaia soon followed Abramovich out of the Stamford Bridge exit door, which has left an inexperienced Boehly to act as a sporting director.

On more than one occasion, he was shown up by his opposite number at FC Barcelona, Mateu Alemany, who beat him to the signings of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde despite their former clubs already accepting an offer from the Blues in Raphinha's and Kounde's cases.

But it hasn't been all doom and gloom, with Boehly landing Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Gabriel Slonina and Carney Chukwuemeka in recent weeks, while also making Barca academy product Marc Cucurella the most expensive left-back of all time in a Pound 62 million ($73.5 million) deal on Friday.

Batting off accusations from Sky pundit Neville that Boehly has been "panicky" in the transfer market by casting his net far and wide, and "wants to play Football Manager" in reference to the popular video game, Tuchel leapt to the club owner's defense ahead of their season opener against Everton on Saturday.

"No, I would describe it as super hard working and learning while on the job," Tuchel answered when asked if Boehly had indeed been panicking.

"The transfer market is one of the toughest things you can do when you come from the outside but I have nothing but the biggest respect and compliments for Todd.

"I don't know when they sleep, I think maybe they never sleep," Tuchel further said of Boehly and his team.

"We have a very honest, open, and direct line of communication and the transfers so far speak for themselves.

"We have a delay, of course. Nobody is guilty for that delay because of the sanctions, [which] led to the loss of key players," Tuchel added, in reference to how the club was punished when Abramovich had his assets frozen while stars such as Antonio Rudiger left on free transfers.

"But both of the owners who are involved in the daily business are doing a fantastic job so far."

Pushed to remark on Chelsea's chances of winning a first Premier League crown since 2017, Tuchel said that he didn't want "to put a limit on our expectations right now or put too much pressure on ourselves."

"I don't think that would help us. I believe we are a club in transition, a team in transition and at the same time I don't want to limit us from the beginning and say it's not possible," he stressed.

"Who knows what is possible? It is possible [to go] in both directions, so we should be humble and try hard to be the best version of ourselves. We have the capacity to win games and win consecutive games."

Tuchel cautioned that Chelsea were "very aware" of the quality of reigning champions Manchester City and Liverpool - widely regarded to be the two best outfits in England - and also that of outsiders Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United.

"Normally one or two teams step up surprisingly and overperform. This is why the Premier League is so exciting," Tuchel insisted.


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