Thomas Tuchel's treatment of Callum Hudson-Odoi is a show of strength

Thomas Tuchel 1-0 Player Power: Brutal treatment of Callum Hudson-Odoi is a show of strength after Chelsea manager criticised the forward’s ‘energy and attitude’ having hooked the substitute off

  • Thomas Tuchel criticised Callum Hudson-Odoi for his performance this week
  • He came on as a substitute at half-time, but was taken off half an hour later
  • There will be no mistaking this manager for a soft touch around Cobham  

Funny club, Chelsea. A win has always been worth its weight in skulls to managers within that empire, but keeping your back free of knives has tended to be of equal importance.

For that reason, Thomas Tuchel might have gained more than he lost from Saturday’s underwhelming draw at Southampton, a game most notable for a startling demonstration of strength by the German.

Whether or not Callum Hudson-Odoi deserved to feel its full force is almost moot, and likewise whether it is a little early in Tuchel’s promising reign for the sort of theatre that comes with substituting a substitute. 

Thomas Tuchel says he was unhappy with Callum Hudson-Odoi’s ‘energy’ at Southampton

Dressing rooms can froth at the mouth over these things, and yet that feels like the point. In the aftermath of the incident, Joe Cole was not alone in referencing Chelsea’s reputation for fragmented squads, and in turn those thoughts built on whispers in the wake of Frank Lampard’s departure around the recurrence of player power at Stamford Bridge.

For a number of years those clouds have hovered, but judging by Tuchel’s brutal response to Hudson-Odoi’s lack of ‘energy’ and ‘attitude’, there will be no mistaking this manager for a soft touch around Cobham.

Assuming the manoeuvre has not sown any bad seeds, that might yet be very useful.

‘We cannot play at 99 per cent, it is not possible,’ was Tuchel’s take on the 76th-minute substitution, which followed the 20-year-old’s entrance at half-time.

‘You play in the Premier League and this is our standard. Our demand to ourselves is to be 100 per cent sharp.’ 

He was introduced at half time at St Mary’s but withdrawn 31 minutes into the second half

When asked about the potential unease that might have been caused within the squad, Tuchel added: ‘I talked to Callum and the whole group. It’s absolutely not a big thing for me. If people want to talk about it like it’s a big thing, OK. For me, it’s not.

‘It’s on Callum to show he is a reliable guy when he comes from the bench like he is when he starts. I took a hard decision on him and this is a decision for today. And now the decision is over and there is no need to worry for him. I trust him a lot. Let’s improve together.’

The subject of improvement currently carries broader meaning at Chelsea. While their trip to Southampton yielded a poor draw in terms of how little they created from so much possession, they are flying compared to their form at the end of Lampard’s reign. 

With five wins and two draws from his seven games, Tuchel has barely put a foot wrong, but it is indisputable they have benefited from kind fixtures. Games against Atletico Madrid tomorrow and Manchester United on Sunday will offer far more information on where they stand.

Southampton, meanwhile, are rebuilding after a six-game losing run in the Premier League. They led through Liverpool loanee Takumi Minamino before Mason Mount levelled with a penalty.

‘We believe in what we are doing,’ said manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. ‘This point is a step towards us returning to our normal form.’ 

Tuchel says the decision will be forgotten about as they prepare for Atletico Madrid this week

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