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“My work at Chelsea was not finished… I came here to complete a cycle”

Thomas Tuchel, who was recently in Kerala for Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy, talks about his time at Stamford Bridge, how competitive the Premier League is, his managerial future and who he will be watching at the World Cup.

Thomas Tuchel, who was recently in Kerala for Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy, talks about his time at Stamford Bridge, how competitive the Premier League is, his managerial future and who he will be watching at the World Cup.

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A photo of Thomas Tuchel with a fan at Kochi airport appeared on social media last month. “He’s going to be the Kerala Blasters assistant coach,” someone joked.

He had not spoken after being sacked by Chelsea in September. So no one knew what he was doing. Speculation swirled about the future of the man who led Chelsea to Champions League glory and guided Paris Saint-Germain to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles.

This social media photo suggested the 49-year-old German, widely regarded as one of the best managers in world football, was in India. He was indeed – at the Sitaram Beach Retreat in Thrissur in central Kerala, to be precise, for Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy.

Although he was reluctant to talk the whole time, he finally gave in. And he spoke at length – a few hours before taking the flight home. Excerpts:

How do you view your days at Chelsea?

I loved every day at Chelsea. It ended too soon for me. But it was out of my hands.

It’s also what you sign up for. You sign up for the good stuff if you’re a football manager, but sometimes things get out of your control; you have to accept it and make the best of the situation.

Are you still a little upset about how you had to leave Chelsea?

Yes, I’m upset. And I’m sad because I think my job at Chelsea wasn’t done. I had a fantastic relationship with the players. We had a fantastic relationship with all the staff. We had overcome an incredibly demanding period of change of ownership and sanction [by the UK government]. And before that, we had COVID-19. So it was quite demanding, but it was also very, very connected. So we did this together, and I was in for the long haul. I was ready to go far because I felt happy, but the owners had another idea, and you have to accept it.

How do you view Chelsea’s magnificent Champions League campaign in 2020-21?

This is the highest level of a tournament you can play. There are so many close matches; the level is so high that you can never expect to win it. When I look back, I think we played the underdog role. The emphasis was on the [Premier] League when I joined Chelsea. The club was ninth in the league and we wanted to reach fourth place if we wanted to qualify. [for the following season’s Champions League]. Even that [qualifying] was quite a feat.

You played several memorable matches en route to the title. What are your favourites?

The semi-final victory against Real Madrid was special. It was during COVID-19 and there were no spectators. The [first-leg] match was at Real Madrid’s training ground. Circumstances helped us a bit, but we made the most of it. There were a lot of games that I was really happy about – the ones against Real Madrid [2-0 at home]Atlético Madrid [2-0 at home]Port [2-0 away] and the final [1-0, against Manchester City].

What brought you to Kerala?

I was curious. One of my assistant coaches, Benjamin Weber, was here six years ago. He told me good things about this place. I have always been aware of the principles of Ayurveda. After a long period of coaching, there was a possibility of taking a break for me, so I came here. I came here to complete a cycle, after my time in Paris and then directly at Chelsea. It was almost like four years in a row. Both leagues have 20 teams and two cups and, of course, Champions League campaigns. So many matches. On a private level as well, it was a good time for me to shut down some things and restart.

How was the experience?

It was a fantastic experience. I feel full of energy. I feel calm. I couldn’t have expected more. I recommend it to anyone who wants to discipline the body and mind.

What could be your next mission?

I haven’t made a decision yet. Now is the time for me to take a break. Some clubs called my manager but we agreed he wouldn’t call me here for 18 days.

Will you be tempted to coach a national team for a change?

Yeah. Why not? I would, I would. I haven’t thought about it too much so far. But I would wonder if it’s the right team and if it has the potential to win trophies like the World Cup and the Euros. If it’s a competitive team, it’s a competitive nation, why not? But that’s not my main goal.

What if an offer came from England?

(Laughs) I see where you’re coming from. But I think England have a good coach at the moment. The team is very, very strong and very talented. I think they are going to have a good campaign [at the World Cup]. For everything else, I will not comment.

Your opinion on Kylian Mbappe, with whom you worked at PSG?

He was also a fantastic player in Monaco. He is one of the best strikers in the world. He is still young and the future is ahead of him. He will still grow and he will still improve his game. And he is always hungry to win, always hungry to score goals. There is no limit to its capacity.

He is one of the key players for France in this World Cup.

Your best teams for the World Cup?

Brazil, France, Argentina, Germany and England. Belgium and Senegal [could spring surprises]. And don’t forget Spain. At the World Cup, I can’t wait to see the players I’ve coached.

Why is the Premier League the most popular football league in the world? Is it also the most difficult league for a manager?

I agree one hundred percent because the level of competition is so high. The best coaches work in the Premier League and the best players play there. And they don’t just play in two or three clubs. They play in six, seven or eight clubs. So almost every weekend, every third day, you have at least one or two [great] matches. Being in this league is really demanding. This is, for now, the best place to be as a player. And as a coach, let’s not say the best, but the most competitive.

Source : BBN NEWS

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