Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel insisted he has been impressed rather than surprised by the way his players have handled the uncertainly surrounding the club.
The world and European club champions cruised into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 victory at Sky Bet Championship Middlesbrough on Saturday evening, their sixth successive win and the fourth since sanctions were imposed upon owner Roman Abramovich.
Asked if he had been surprised, Tuchel said: “They have impressed me – not surprised, but impressed.
Wembley Bound Blues! 🏟@ChelseaFC put an end to @Boro's brilliant run in this season's campaign, as an early flurry of goals secured the Blues' fifth #EmiratesFACup semi-final spot in six years! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/pMiQsLtpFl— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) March 19, 2022
“At one point, we needed to accept that we did not cause the situation and we cannot influence the situation, we cannot change the situation no matter what we do and how much we talk about it and how much we worry.
“We had also to find a certain level of accepting the situation and refocusing on what we can influence, and that is our performance.
“The good thing is that from day one, I found a very ambitious club and a huge staff that is determined to push the players to the maximum level of performance, and this includes focus, this includes respectful behaviour, this includes an attitude of a team spirit that is needed.
They have impressed me - not surprised, but impressed.Thomas Tuchel on his Chelsea players
“These are the things on which we rely now and in which we trust. That’s impressive because they do exactly this and we try to support them to keep on going.”
Victory on Teesside came in regulation fashion as a team which featured five changes to the one which started at Lille in the Champions League in midweek – keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed out through illness, while midfielder Jorginho was rested – struck twice before the break, first through Romelu Lukaku and then Hakim Ziyech, to assume control.
Promotion-chasing Boro, who had beaten Manchester United and Tottenham in the previous two rounds, refused to throw in the towel, but simply could not find a way through a blue wall.
Tuchel said: “I’m very happy and very impressed also because it was another very focused performance and deserved win.”
The game came against the backdrop of the club’s search for a new owner with a series of bids having been received before Friday’s deadline.
Asked if he had been made aware of any developments, Tuchel said: “I know about the timescale, but I don’t know anything about the offers. I don’t know how many offers, I don’t know how many serious offers, I don’t know from whom the offers are.
“I’m not so much interested in the details of this process. I know the guidelines of the process, I’m informed about that and this is enough for me. When it gets crucial and decisive, it’s enough that I know it.”
Boro manager Chris Wilder, who lost Paddy McNair to a foot injury which could keep him out of international duty with Northern Ireland and Dael Fry with a groin problem, was left to reflect upon what might have been.
Wilder said: “We’re a little bit disappointed. It’s tough when you go 2-0 down against the quality that you’re up against after 25 minutes, but we stuck in there, we didn’t let the game get away from us, but it was always going to be difficult from that moment.
“We were ‘nearly’. I said to the players I thought we were ‘nearly’ in terms of a lot of aspects of our game, nearly got the press right – and if you don’t, then they can play through you.”