Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea are capable of reaching the standards set by Liverpool and Manchester City in the past four years but the manager knows there is no guarantee he will have as much time to prove himself as Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola were given.
Chelsea have lagged behind the leaders since winning the Premier League in 2017 and Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard on an 18-month deal in January, accepts that challenging for the title next season will be hard. Although his side are a point above sixth-placed Liverpool before they meet at Anfield on Thursday, they finished 33 points below Klopp’s champions last season and are 21 points below Guardiola’s City at the top of the league.
The numbers do not favour Chelsea, who were 26 points behind City in 2019 and 30 in 2018. Tuchel’s target this season is finishing in the top four but he is confident of realising his ambition of catching Klopp and Guardiola in the future.
“If you read these numbers out loud then it seems not,” he said. “But we should not limit our thoughts. We should try and not prepare for excuses. The amount of points shows how big the gap is. But it has to be the ambition to close it as fast as possible.
“It’s a thin line between the argument and giving already an excuse to myself and the players. I don’t want to do that. It’s not my nature and you can only push yourself to the limit if you don’t accept it from the beginning.
“Will we close the gap to City this season? No. But next season on we start with zero points. City were in trouble this season and nobody took advantage. It’s proven in sports that you can do an extraordinary step, improve staff and grow if you catch the momentum. Now we are challenging for top four, which was a big task when we stepped in, and from next year we will challenge for all titles.”
Tuchel smiled at a mention of Chelsea’s history of sacking managers. It took Klopp five years to lead Liverpool to the title and Guardiola’s first season at City was a disappointment.
“I have to earn it that I can have the same time as Jürgen and Pep,” Tuchel said. “This was no gift to them. I think everybody in the club saw what they are doing and this is what I have to prove. I have to live every day to make my impact here and to show that I deserve the same amount of time to build teams. But I don’t have the feeling that it’s an obstacle that holds me back from building.”
Tammy Abraham is a doubt to face Liverpool with an ankle injury and Thiago Silva is not ready to return from a thigh injury. But Callum Hudson-Odoi is available after going off at half-time during Chelsea’s draw with Manchester United last Sunday.