Thomas Tuchel has revealed he substituted Chelsea debutant Saul Niguez at half-time to protect his confidence.
The Spaniard did not re-emerge after the interval during Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Jorginho took his place in midfield after a first 45 minutes in a Chelsea shirt that saw Saul, signed on loan from Atletico Madrid on deadline day, hassled and harried by Aston Villa’s busy midfield trio.
While Tuchel confessed it was a difficult decision, the German admitted that Saul failed to adapt on his debut for his new club.
“It was a hard decision, but he was struggling, and I take the responsibility for that,” said Tuchel.
“I put him into a difficult match after a national break, and it was hard to adapt to the physicality and in general for him, intensity and high pressing.
“It was also a bit hard for him to adapt to our system. So we thought to give a bit more stability and switch the shape to 5-3-2 in the second half with Jorginho.”
The decision paid dividends as the change steadied a Chelsea midfield that had appeared overwhelmed at times in the first half.
The impressive Mateo Kovacic pounced on a Tyrone Mings error soon after the game’s restart to double Chelsea’s lead after Romelu Lukaku’s opener from the Croatian’s superb through pass.
Lukaku added a sharply-taken third in stoppage time as Chelsea secured their 600th Premier League win and continued their unbeaten start to the season despite a spirited Aston Villa performance.
Tuchel hopes that Saul can accept the decision to take him off after a tough first outing.
“It was a tough one but I hope he can accept it’s on my responsibility,” the German continued.
“In training he looked like he had no problem to adapt but today was very, very intense. He had some easy ball losses which I thought was very, very unusual for him.
“So before he lost any confidence I thought it best to take him off.”
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