Thomas Tuchel Explains Decision to Start Christian Pulisic on the Bench


Christian Pulisic had been a first team regular, but today he began Chelsea’s goalless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on the bench. This was surprising to most, because today marked the very first game of the Thomas Tuchel era and the young American winger is one of just two players (Thiago Silva) that Tuchel has coached before.

Pulisic and Tuchel, 47, have a chemistry and trust from their time together at Borussia Dortmund. There are three more players that Tuchel is familiar with, as they are German internationals, in Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Antonio Rudiger. The rest of the squad provides discovery for the new boss, who replaced Frank Lampard just two days ago.

Asked to comment on his new roster, and the players he is already familiar with, Tuchel said the following:

“The funny thing is you step into a team in the middle of the season and you know already Kai [Havertz] and Timo [Werner] and Toni [Rudiger], and I fight many years to have N’Golo Kante in my team who is here, and I spoke French with Olivier Giroud, and I have a clear picture because I am following Premier League all the time.

“Even when I am coaching in Dortmund and Paris, I have a clear picture of what the guys are capable of. To find a guy like Azpilicueta suddenly in your office is simply amazing, because in the end I am also a fan. Almost since I am born I am a football fan.”

Regarding Pulisic himself, the newly minted Blues boss explained:

“Christian, for sure, I know very well what he is capable of. He had a big, big input. It was an unfair decision today for him to not start. I told him it was only because I know what you can bring from the bench because I know you.

“I don’t know the others and not sure what the others can do from the bench, but you are a player who can start for us and can absolutely change also things for us from the bench. He did amazing. And at half time he told me ‘hey coach, you pronounced the name wrong for Azpi!’ He helped me with that. Maybe that was a big help and that is why we love him.”

Tuchel, Pulisic and the rest of Chelsea will next take on Burnley, in league play, at home on Sunday.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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