Thomas Tuchel is very much a coach’s coach. He is obsessed with football, with tactical nuances and evolutions, and with helping players take their games to the next level.
By his own admission, the 47-year-old loves nothing more than being out on the training pitch, whistle in hand, and implementing and honing patterns of play, attacking and defensive structure, and new ideas with his squad.
That is why Tuchel will be enjoying Chelsea’s pre-season, even though the Blues’ preparations for the 2021/22 campaign are far from ideal.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the German and his coaching team returned to Cobham after their holidays. And after only a few days back at Chelsea, Tuchel welcomed a 28-man group back for pre-season, although the majority of the club’s star names were absent.
This was always going to be the case. Chelsea had 18 players away on international duty this summer at the Copa America and European Championship.
Of those, six reached the finals of the respective competitions and so won’t be returning to Chelsea until the end of this month.
The group Tuchel is having to work with does have a few first-team regulars.
Hakim Ziyech, for instance, is in situ and scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 friendly win over Peterborough on Saturday. Christian Pulisic is with the group and was also on the scoresheet at the weekend.
Edouard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalga, Marcos Alonso, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Tammy Abraham have returned too.
The majority of the makeshift first-team squad is, however, made up of players who spent last season on loan. There are also a couple of academy graduates who are returning from injury and illness.
All will be working hard to impress the Chelsea head coach, some because they feel they can break into Tuchel’s squad this season and others because they have ambitions of making the Blues’ first team down the line.
There will also be players that are pushing themselves ahead of potential moves away from Stamford Bridge, either on loan or permanently.
Tuchel is attempting to give everybody in his large squad pre-season minutes – it’s why Jamie Cumming and Lucas Bergstrom were used in goal against Peterborough rather than Mendy and Kepa – and several players have caught his eye.
He has also liked what he’s seen from his players during Chelsea’s pre-season trip to Dublin, as captured by the Blues’ in-house media team during yesterday’s session at the Carton House Hotel.
“Touch every ball. Play, middle turn, go, go, go,” Tuchel bellowed during a training drill to his players. “This is the zone where you want to go. Use the space.”
After bringing the drill, during which Callum Hudson-Odoi earned praise, Tuchel said to the group: “Well done guys, excellent.”
Game two of Chelsea’s pre-season campaign will be played tonight. The Blues, football.london understands, will be taking on Irish side Drogheda United at the club’s training base. Kick off is understood to be at 6.30pm.