Christian Pulisic claims Tuchel deceived him about playing time
American forward Christian Pulisic claims that former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel lied to him about starting a massive match. In an excerpt from his upcoming book Christian Pulisic: My Journey So Far, the USMNT star said that Tuchel promised him a start in the 2020/21 Champions League semifinal second-leg game against Real Madrid.
Pulisic was in the starting XI for the first leg against the Spanish giants and scored. Following the match, Tuchel apparently told Pulisic that he would start him again for the second leg. This, however, was not the case. The German Tuchel left Christian Pulisic on the bench.
“What happened before that game was hugely disappointing for me,” Pulisic said in the book. “I’d had a really good first leg performance and our following match was against Fulham in the league. Tuchel told me that he was resting me for the second leg and as a result I didn’t play a single minute in the Fulham game.”
“Then on match day of the second semi, Tuchel tells me he’s changed his mind and he’s going with Kai [Havertz]. I honestly was dumbfounded and very disappointed. I thought that I’d earned a start and, most importantly, he had assured me previously I was going to start. So by the time he brought me on with about 25 minutes left, I was just so wound up.”
Pulisic came into the game as a late sub and provided an assist to Mason Mount less than 20 minutes later. Chelsea won the game 2-0 and the semifinal 3-1 on aggregate.
Christian Pulisic and Tuchel lost relationship
Perhaps a reason for the snub was the fact that Pulisic disregarded Tuchel’s instructions in the first leg. However, the American’s rebellious moment actually created his goal. “The untold story behind that goal is that when [Antonio] Rüdiger has the ball, I can see he’s looking to play it long over the top and I started my run to get in behind the Madrid backline,” said Pulisic.
“But as I take off on the run, I hear Thomas Tuchel yelling from the sideline, ‘Christian, stay in the pocket, don’t make the run!‘ But, I just had the feeling I’d find the space and get on the end of the pass. So, I continued the run.”
Chelsea eventually won the Champions League trophy that year, but there was tension between player and coach. Despite public claims that their relationship was fine, Pulisic, and his father, was clearly showed clear frustration.
Chelsea fired Tuchel earlier this month. In his replacement’s, Graham Potter, only game, Pulisic came on as a late substitute.
PHOTO: Imago / Sportimage