Thomas Tuchel has questioned the “priorities” of UK prime minister Boris Johnson after learning that Chelsea supporters have been urged to cease with their terrace support for sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich.
The Russian billionaire, who has been at the Stamford Bridge helm since 2003, had been in the process of trying to find a buyer for the Premier League heavyweights when seeing his assets frozen by the government.
Chelsea are now having to work in testing conditions, with their fans continuing to show where their allegiances lie, and Tuchel believes there are bigger issues for everybody to address at present than the actions of those in the stands.
What did Boris Johnson say?
An official spokesperson for the prime minister has said of the supportive songs that the Stamford Bridge faithful continue to aim in the direction of Abramovich: “We recognise the strength of feeling around people's clubs but that does not excuse behaviour which is completely inappropriate at this time.
“I think people can show passion and support for their club without resorting to that sort of stuff.”
What has Tuchel had to say in response?
The German was asked about Johnson’s comments ahead of a Champions League trip to Lille on Wednesday, with Tuchel saying: “I heard about it. I heard about it just some minutes ago. I don't know if, in these times, if it is the most important discussion to have in parliament.
“I don't know if fan chants being discussed in parliament means that we have to worry about the priorities of this government. But, okay, no need to comment from me. We have really far more urgent things to discuss and handle.”
The bigger picture
Tuchel is right to point out that Chelsea have greater concerns right now than the behaviour of their supporters, with the club having to fund a visit to France after seeing restrictions imposed on their cash flow.
The second leg of a last-16 encounter that the Blues lead 2-0 on aggregate will go ahead as planned, but tweaks are having to be made to travel plans due to the costs involved.
Tuchel added on how Chelsea are overcoming those challenges: “There are restrictions and we have to deal with it.
“There are adjustments in the amount of staff, who is travelling, how many rooms we have in hotels and how we arrive at matches.
“It isn't about luxury and bling-bling. This is just a professional level of sports, where we play with two days between matches with our opponent having four days between matches and we arrive with the possibilities of injuries. For that, it is better to arrive with a plane rather than a bus. We try to do it. For my understanding, we have a framework to go and play in Lille with absolutely no excuses.
“Regarding these organisations, it is already more difficult to arrange things on a professional level, in the best way possible, for the FA Cup. But we will deal with it.
“As long as we have shirts and are alive as a team, we will be competitive and fight hard for our success. We owe it to the people who support us in a very invisible way. Of course, we are in the spotlight and it is our responsibility to do so. We will do it.”