Thomas Tuchel said he hopes his Chelsea side’s humbling 5-2 defeat at home to relegation-threatened West Brom will be a wake-up call.
Doubles from Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson and a strike from Mbaye Diagne steered West Brom to a shock victory at Stamford Bridge, following Thiago Silva’s sending off on 29 minutes for two bookings.
It was the first defeat Tuchel has suffered in charge of Chelsea since taking charge 15 games ago and while it leaves the Blues vulnerable to being leapfrogged in the table by London rivals West Ham and Tottenham this weekend, the German says his team need to respond quickly for their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Porto on Tuesday.
“After the red card we were not able to cope with the situation,” he told BT Sport immediately after the game. “I don’t know why but it was like this. We gave away very easy goals just before half-time. But in the second half, what could go wrong went wrong and we have to accept a big loss today.
“Hopefully it’s a big-wake up call for all of us, me included. We will get the right response because this is sport and this is absolutely necessary. First of all, it’s important we digest it, because it’s a lot to digest. I did not see it coming. Now we have to take our responsibilities – me included – and shake it off and continue tomorrow.”
In his post-match press conference, Tuchel put his side’s “rusty” start to the game down to an early kick-off coming after the international break but accepted the level of quality from his team in both attack and defence was not of the required standard.
“We were rusty, we were sloppy in the build-up in our own half, we did many, many unforced errors, we did not adapt well to our positions under pressure, and we gave away easy ball losses that lead in the end to a red card that cost us the game today.
“There are two games today. There’s a game, 11 against 11, which was not our best game, which I was not super happy about, but I did not expect too much after the international break and then they have an early kick-off on Saturday. So that was ok for me.
“But we were still sloppy and on the counter-attacks we had big, big chances and we were not precise enough and missed a lot of opportunities to finish this game early.
“Then the second story of the game is we were not able to adapt to one man down. There is no need to concede five goals if you’re one man down with our quality but our defending was clearly not on the level it’s used to being.
“And I’m in that for the tactical choices, of course they’re my responsibility. It’s hard to accept but there’s no other solution but to accept it and move on forward.”
Tuchel was also keen not to get carried away by the defeat.
“We can not, after 14 or 15 matches, lose our head now, we can not take away the trust that we have in these players,” he said, as he explained what he had told his players after the match.
“It was the moment after the game to be honest but to be calm and breathe and to tell everybody to breathe. It will be a hard afternoon for everybody, a hard evening.
“It’s our first loss together and it’s important to find a way to deal with it together and let everybody know I feel a part of it.”
Allardyce: Win gives us hope
In contrast, West Brom boss Sam Allardyce was understandably delighted with his team’s performance – and insisted the fact Thiago Silva was sent off should take nothing away from the credit he believes his players deserve.
“We’re really pleased and satisfied with how the players applied our tactics today, how we set out to control Chelsea’s attacks and what we could do in possession of the ball,” he told BT Sport.
“I have to say, because we ended up being so good in possession of the ball on so many occasions, and our quality of finishing was the best it’s been since I’ve been here, it gave us a thoroughly deserved victory.
“People will of course look to the fact they went down to 10 men, but I’ve been manager of many teams that have gone down to 10 men and won and not lost, so we took full advantage after that.
“I thought Silva was lucky to stay on when he pulled Pereira back with both his hands, going through he’d maybe score a goal.
“Then we had to recover from the goal they scored and did that brilliantly.”
The win lifts second-bottom West Brom to within seven points of Newcastle, who currently sit in 17th place and face Tottenham on Sky Sports on Sunday.
Allardyce refused to get carried away about his side’s survival chances but says the result gives them confidence for the remainder of the high-stakes run-in.
“I have to be totally delighted with the players’ performance today. It still gives us a bit of hope going forward,” he added. “It’s a bit of a long wait for Southampton to see if we can get our first back-to-back wins now.
“There’s a long way to go. I said we needed six wins out of nine, now it’s five out of eight and we might have a chance, and even then we might need a draw.
“But we’ve started on the track of an undefeated run and trying to get more wins in the last eight games than we have all season. It’s been done before and this is a good start. But it’s a long way to go still.”