Just when Thomas Tuchel takes one big step forward on the pitch with Chelsea the turmoil around the club bites again.
No sooner had his side clinched a 4-1 aggregate victory against Lille last night in the Champion’s League, manager Tuchel was told by a Sky Sports reporter about UEFA’s plan to ban Chelsea fans from attending the quarter final at Stamford Bridge due to new EU sanctions on Roman Abramovich.
“Thanks for ruining my evening,” Tuchel replied with a smile on his face, he was clearly hearing the news for the first time.
“I was in such a good mood,” he joked.
Around 2,600 Chelsea fans travelled to northern France to see Tuchel’s side carry on winning despite the unprecedented restrictions the club is now under from both the UK government and now the European Union.
Both have clearly laid out Roman Abramovich’s close ties to President Putin as the reasons for placing the club into such special measures.
Everyone at Chelsea is learning to operate under their special licence that simply allows the football club to function – not to make money from things like ticket or merchandise sales.
Fans divided over restrictions
While many fans have voiced their anger about the punishments and defiantly chanted Abramovich’s name in the stands there are also fans who do accept them.
In one of the bars in central Lille, Chelsea fan Harry told Sky News: “I personally don’t have a problem with the sanctions, I think they’re the right thing to do in this moment, I hope it becomes a wider look at how the government look at money coming into England.”
His brother George said: “Chelsea fans are not the victims here, the Ukrainian people are. But I think there is a sense of grievance among some fans because it feels a bit like well why did we turn a blind eye to some of the other things.”
The Saudi takeover at Newcastle United is the prime example they point to. Chelsea fans don’t all agree on what’s happening at their club but there is certainly something of a consensus that they shouldn’t be the only ones being punished.
Season ticket holder Bob Woods from Mitcham went to his first game in 1953. He told Sky News outside the ground in Lille: “I have seen the bad times, I have had 20 years of good times and lots of trophies and if we go back to the bad times so be it.
“We want to keep the man though, Tuchel, he’s the best one (manager) I have ever seen, he talks a good talk, he doesn’t shirk it.”
He doesn’t. Tuchel has certainly done himself no harm these past few weeks, adeptly dealing with the difficult questions – being honest and transparent.
With a winning team to prepare he can be forgiven for not being across every single development.