Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea has been a successful manager in every position he has held. One of the reasons for his success is that he is a strict disciplinarian.
The team always comes first, and no player can be larger than the club, regardless of his pedigree. After Romelu Lukaku went ‘rogue’ during a contentious interview last week, the German manager punished him the same way.
Many Chelsea fans were outraged when Lukaku openly expressed his wish to return to Inter Milan. He also acknowledged his dissatisfaction with his diminished role since rejoining the Blues, as well as his doubts about Tuchel’s methods.
Unsurprisingly, he was left out of Chelsea’s match against Liverpool on Sunday, in which the Blues came back from a two-goal deficit to force a draw.
Lukaku’s contentious press conference was unnecessary ‘noise’ ahead of a key match against a fellow title contender like Liverpool. His choice to bench the Belgian striker was also justifiable since Lukaku’s presence may have engendered a lot of discontent among the home supporters.
Imagine fans yelling and jeering Lukaku at every touch when the team was down 2-0 to Liverpool, or withdrawing their loud support when Lukaku was named in the starting eleven!
In any case, Tuchel did the right thing by keeping his team focused on the task at hand and avoiding the potential disaster that could have resulted from Lukaku’s inclusion.
Tuchel appears to have accepted Lukaku’s apologies, as the Belgian striker has returned to Chelsea’s team.
Chelsea didn’t miss Lukaku in their credit against Liverpool. Tuchel also successfully conveyed the concept that no single player is more important than the entire team.
If Chelsea had lost, the German manager would have been questioned. However, his team’s courageous effort vindicated his decision to bench the Belgian striker.
The players fought for each other while the team kept its focus. Chelsea came back from a 2-0 deficit against Liverpool, and it was largely to the character displayed by the eleven men on the field.
All is forgiven now, as Lukaku will play in the Carabao Cup semi-finals against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday. However, what is evident is that Tuchel’s decision to bench Lukaku served its objective and provided the team with a calm environment in which to hold Liverpool.