Thomas Tuchel has hinted the Chelsea hierarchy were chasing a Champions League place after putting the German coach in charge in January.
Frank Lampard was a surprise casualty of Roman Abramovich when he was given the boot after a run of five defeats in eight games saw their top-four hopes hit. Tuchel replaced him and almost immediately shored up a rearguard which had conceded three against Arsenal and Man City and two against top-four rivals Leicester. The German coach has steered Chelsea back into the top four and their goals against column reads just nine against.
It’s not been revealed just what target Tuchel had when he took over the Stamford Bridge hot-seat. But he’s hinted that the expectation from owner Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia was a top-four spot, at worst.
The former PSG boss looks like delivering on that front, while he could also add an FA Cup and Champions League trophy to his list of honours.
“Maybe they didn’t expect but they didn’t say we wouldn’t make it. They made a change because they maybe felt they needed a change but they were convinced by the quality and mentality by the team,” said Tuchel.
“We know very well that you need a little bit of luck and momentum and we have caught all that. We are in the middle of the race for top four and reached two finals. It wasn’t the demand of the club and the expectation wasn’t to fulfil all categories but nobody told me they didn’t care about these competitions.
“If you play with Chelsea, you play the competition to win it. This club is now built to win games and competitions consistently. This is what we agreed on in the first minute of our talks. We haven’t won anything now and it doesn’t help if we talk about it. We have to play to finals and finish in the top four.”
Asked if the next few weeks was the most important in Tuchel’s career, he replied: “There are pretty exciting weeks for sure. The biggest I’m not sure as I’m not the best at comparing as I’ve had ups and downs and exciting times in my career.
“It’s a tight schedule and a fantastic experience in the last three weeks, so much to fight for. Now it’s the time to take the next step and not just play a final.
“There are a lot of targets to reach and it’s exciting, demanding and sometimes tiring. But it’s the best way to finish a season.”
Duo in race to make FA Cup final
Meanwhile, Chelsea duo Mateo Kovacic and Andreas Christensen face a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Croatia midfielder Kovacic has been sidelined with hamstring trouble since the day before the Blues’ Champions League quarter-final second leg with Porto on April 13.
Denmark defender Christensen picked up a tendon problem in Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League win at Manchester City and will also be a doubt for the weekend’s Wembley showdown with Leicester.
Kovacic and Christensen will both miss Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel suggested however that Kovacic could stand more chance of being fit in time to take on the Foxes at Wembley.
“Kova is not ready for tomorrow, we have to postpone it to Wembley,” said Tuchel. “So his personal race is on to make it to the squad to Wembley.
“For Andreas, it’s better than we feared, much better, the images yesterday, so we hope also for one of the two Leicester games for him to come back.
“It will be also a tough one, but the season is not finished for him hopefully. So we have realistic hopes that his latest comeback will be against Aston Villa.”
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