Tuchel publicly criticised Chelsea's underachieving players

Thomas Tuchel publicly criticised Chelsea's underachieving players following Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Chelsea's head coach Thomas Tuchel gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on 28 August 2021. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP

LONDON - Thomas Tuchel laid into his Chelsea stars during a crisis meeting after a dismal week that featured damaging defeats against Real Madrid and Brentford.

Tuchel publicly criticised Chelsea's underachieving players following Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

The German admitted holders Chelsea have no chance of progressing to the semi-finals and claimed his team's performances in that defeat and their 4-1 home loss against Brentford last Saturday were unacceptable.

As if that was not a strong enough message from a manager usually careful to be composed in front of the media, Tuchel called his squad together on Thursday to deliver another reality check ahead of Saturday's game at Southampton.

"It was not a discussion type of meeting, it was more that I gave my point of view and that's sometimes also necessary," Tuchel told reporters on Friday.

"We always take the players' view into account. But over the last two games we felt it was maybe necessary to give our point of view.

"It was behind closed doors in an atmosphere where everybody can take criticism."

Tuchel took off N'Golo Kante and Andreas Christensen at half-time against Real, having dropped Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Marcos Alonso and Ruben Loftus-Cheek following the Brentford debacle.

But Tuchel said he did not single out players for personal criticism in a meeting which included a focus on their recent defensive failings.

  • 'Disappointed and angry' -
    "We don't point fingers, we don't look for people who are guilty, we are in this together," he said.

"But we needed to point out some things in our game where we were not happy, but it was about the game.

"We looked into it and we talked to the team about it, to try to figure out how to improve and to stop this direction of travel as soon as possible.

"It's not like us at all to defend like this and that's why we didn't see it coming. It wasn't the case before the national break and it's not so easy because it doesn't fit into a pattern."

With their Champions League title defence all but over after Karim Benzema's hat-trick for Real, Tuchel's side must focus on qualifying for next season's tournament via a top-four finish in the Premier League.

They sit third at present, but are only five points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal.

To finish the season on a high, Tuchel said they must get back to the principles that made them European and Club World Cup champions.

"We lacked structure in the last game. Normally our big strength is that you can clearly see what we try to do and that was not the case," he said.

"We lacked intensity and investment in defending. After Brentford, and after Real Madrid, I felt like we gave a huge opportunity away.

"That's why we were not only disappointed, but also angry. And you know, for me it's best to say it like it is, don't hide."

Insisting he had no qualms about reading his players the riot act, Tuchel added: "I don't know if the meeting is a turning point.

"I think it's necessary so that the players understand it, if the manager is sometimes angry, I think I had some reasons, and I presented my reasons and from there on we go.

"Sometimes you have to handle things like this, it isn't amateur football."