Chelsea’s Champions League triumph might still be sinking in for many of their players, but Thomas Tuchel has already left them in no doubt that he wants it to be the first of many trophies.
It is two months to the day since the Blues beat Manchester City 1-0 in Porto, but Tuchel has told his squad during pre-season to “forgot the success” of last season and “restart again”.
The Chelsea manager wants to build a team to challenge for the Premier League title in 2021-22 and Christian Pulisic, the first American to win the Champions League, believes there is growing confidence among the players ahead of the new campaign following their Euro exploits.
“I don’t know if it’s totally sunk in yet, it was such an incredible achievement,” the forward tells Standard Sport. “It’s starting to hit us — it gives us a lot of confidence.”
The expectations at Stamford Bridge are clear to Pulisic ahead of what he hopes can be a defining season for both himself and the team. After beating City three times in six weeks at the end of last season, the aim is to carry that into the new season, as Chelsea target the Double.
“To be the champions of Europe, it wasn’t an easy journey. We’ve seen now that we can compete with those top teams, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t feel that way,” adds Pulisic.
“They [City] were one of the best teams last season and to beat them a few times gives us confidence. We have such a strong squad, so I would say anything’s possible.”
The strength of the Chelsea squad is a major plus for Tuchel, but the number of top-quality options must sometimes be a frustration for some of his players vying for starting spots.
Any one of Mason Mount, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and the returning Ruben Loftus-Cheek will think they can stake a claim to rival Pulisic, who is relishing the competition.
“That’s a great thing about our team, that we have so much depth and so many strong players,” he says. “We have so many games that you’re going to get your time, so it’s just about making the most of your chances.”
Ensuring he is fit to put himself in the best position to start is one of Pulisic’s main targets this season. Chelsea fans have seen in flashes what he is capable of, but his time in England has been hampered by injuries.
“Staying healthy is definitely a big target of mine, and trying to be available as much as I can to continue to help my team and make a big impact,” he says.
Chelsea players will fine-tune their preparations for the new season in two friendlies, against Arsenal and Tottenham, in the Mind Series, a triangular tournament in support of the mental health charity Mind.
Ahead of the event, which begins on Saturday when Chelsea play Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, Pulisic spent time discussing mental health issues with local teenagers who are supported by Mind.
Like many people during the pandemic, Pulisic had his own struggles, as he was thousands of miles from his home and family in Pennsylvania, while also battling for a place in the team.
“At the start I wasn’t playing as much as I would like, but it just forced me to train hard, to show why I want to be a part of this team,” says Pulisic.
“Your mental health is important. It’s about being content with who you are as a person and, for me, getting away from the game and finding the right balance.
“I’m always having to fight with everything that is going on with football, but also stepping away and making sure my mind is in a good place and I’m really just happy.”
The post Confident Pulisic tips Chelsea to win the double this season appeared first on Sporting Life.