Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic has revealed that he was left furious when he was dropped by former Blues manager Thomas Tuchel for their Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid back in 2021. The west Londoners sacked Tuchel earlier this month after a sub-par start to the new campaign and have since replaced him with Graham Potter, who left his position at Brighton to take over at Stamford Bridge.
Pulisic’s working relationship with Tuchel appeared to deteriorate over the course of the latter’s time in charge, with one particular moment in 2021 leaving the American winger hugely frustrated. He was initially told that he would be starting against Real Madrid in the decisive second leg of their Champions League semi-final, but was ultimately replaced in the side by Kai Havertz at the eleventh hour before he was thrown on as a substitute with less than 30 minutes remaining.
“What happened before that game was hugely disappointing for me,” wrote Pulisic in his upcoming book, Christian Pulisic: My Journey So Far.
“l’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. 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 was said to have grown frustrated with life under Tuchel at Chelsea and was heavily linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge over the course of the summer transfer window as a result. The likes of Liverpool and Manchester United reportedly explored the possibility of a move for the United States international but he ended up staying at Chelsea, where he will be hoping to start playing regularly in order to prepare for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
It remains to be seen how Pulisic will fare at Chelsea under the guidance of Potter, who named him among the substitutes for last week’s Champions League draw against Red Bull Salzburg. The new Chelsea boss has already been urged to give Pulisic more playing time by United States manager Greg Berhalter, who believes that he is perfectly capable of emerging as a key man for the Blues this season.
“I’m not happy a guy lost his job,” said Berhalter, as reported by football.london. “But if this means more opportunity for Christian then it’s positive because he’s a guy that’s proven that he can perform at that level. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
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