Thank goodness for Thomas Tuchel as he takes on Chelsea’s knuckle-draggers after fans chanted Roman Abramovich’s name over minute’s applause for Ukraine
- Chelsea have enough knuckle draggers in their travelling support to fill a zoo
- Pro-Roman Abramovich chants during applause for Ukraine were a real low point
- Luckily Blues manager Thomas Tuchel called out his own fans for their actions
Even when they nail four and don’t concede, there’s a whiff of disappointment. That’s just how it is right now for Chelsea, a club with every trophy a cabinet can hold and enough knuckle draggers in their travelling support to fill a decent sized zoo.
We know it’s an unsettling time for that bunch, both staff and following. We know because there is no telling who or what their next guy will be like.
There’s uncertainty in all that, and conflict, too, for how are they supposed to feel about the fella who made it rain silver for 19 years and is now being discussed in other terms? Not necessarily new terms, but wars have a habit of increasing the volume, so this is all very different.
Chelsea fans singing pro-Roman Abramovich songs during applause for Ukraine was a real low
Luckily Blues manager Thomas Tuchel was brave enough to call out those supporters doing it
Match Facts & Ratings: Burnley vs Chelsea
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope 5.5; Roberts 6, Collins 6.5, Tarkowski 6, Taylor 6; Lennon 6, Westwood 6, Brownhill 6, McNeil 5; Weghorst 6 (Barnes 77min), Rodriguez 5.5 (Cornet 63, 6).
Booked: Barnes, Westwood.
Manager: Sean Dyche 6.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy 6; Chalobah 7, Silva 7.5, Rudiger 6.5; James 7.5 (Loftus-Cheek 71, 6), Kante 7 (Kovacic 71, 7), Jorginho 7, Niguez 6.5; Mount 7 (Werner 78), Pulisic 8, Havertz 7.5.
Manager: Thomas Tuchel 7.5.
Referee: Andre Marriner 7.
Attendance: Not provided.
Different and yet astoundingly the same, which takes us back to Saturday, and the latest instance of one of football’s tribes failing to balance their interests proportionately against matters of basic decency.
That such a considerable number of fans chose to cheer the name of Roman Abramovich during a minute of applause for Ukraine felt like a new low for a grubby genre. Was it done in provocation? In humour? In support of a bloke they never met?
Who knows, and in any case how do you judge a collective mindset? How can you hope to find reason in a group, when at least one carriage load on the 18:03 out of Burnley Manchester Road had already moved on to various Y-word lyrics? You have them at all clubs, of course, but is that really meant to make anyone feel better?
If there’s a cleaner tone in all this, it was found in the judgment and words of Thomas Tuchel, who might in time rank as Abramovich’s final major appointment and also his best.
He made two defining contributions to Saturday’s trouncing of Burnley, the first of which was his half-time message.
At 0-0, it was not the kind of performance to support Abramovich’s valuation of the club, but within 10 minutes of restarting a goal from Reece James and two from Kai Havertz had the game over. Christian Pulisic later made it a 4-0 hammering and a third straight league win.
The other decision was perhaps more impressive, given Tuchel once again took on the tricky subject by criticising those fans.
‘It’s not the moment to give other messages, it’s a moment to show respect,’ he said. ‘We show respect as a club and we need our fans to commit to this minute of applause in the moment we do it for Ukraine.’
Tuchel’s side eased past the Clarets with a strong 4-0 win at Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon
It has been an awkward time for Tuchel, whose frustrations have been seen in the past week, and yet he has handled the difficulties of diverse questioning exceptionally well. His preference would be to return to footballing issues, and gradually that will happen.
For now, that means an acknowledgement that the ‘intensity’ of Havertz’s running is making him harder to drop, and that James’s excellent performance in his first start for more than two months highlighted the damage done to Chelsea’s title challenge by his absence.
‘I think the biggest struggle for us this season is the injuries of key players, and Reecey is one, like Ben Chilwell,’ said Tuchel.
‘(But) we are still in third place, we are still in the FA Cup, we are still in the Champions League. We still have a lot to fight for.’