How happy are you to get Romelu Lukaku signed?
I am very happy. He can be hopefully an excellent choice for us and addition. He has the power, the physique to help us, the experience and the personality to have a huge impact on our squad.
He is, at the same time, a humble guy. A team player and he cares about Chelsea so we had the feeling that it was worth it to try and to fight hard for him so we are happy he is our player now.
Have you had a chance to speak with him about what he wants to achieve?
Yes, he was super hungry. He did everything to take this chance to make it happen. He, of course, had a huge impact at Inter, he was a huge player with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, winning a big title for Inter last season.
So it was actually very important to us that it was his desire to rejoin Chelsea and to finish his story here the what that he wants for himself. It was very important.
We have a very strong group that is defined by a very strong bond and with a certain attitude to be ready to help each other out. We think that Romelu, coming through here and always having Chelsea in his heart, is the perfect addition to our group because he embodies all that.
We are proud of that in this club. We had, of course, some change on the phone and with messages but right now he is following the protocol and quarantining some more days and we will work on the details.
Is he the type of player that could help Chelsea become title challengers once again?
Well first of all we came fourth and not second, fourth and not third, so there are quite some bridges to overcome and gaps to close. We had a very good half a season with the group together and of course, with a fantastic ending and now with an exciting start with a trophy.
We were looking for a certain profile and Romelu feels confident to play physical, to play with back to goal, also very strong in using his pace so this will always be a key figure in our game.
We want to be strong in ball wins and offensive transition, this is what the league demands and what we demand of ourselves. We don’t want to be only a ball possession team or only a defensive team, long balls, but the feeling that Romelu’s strengths will give us a new power when we cross from the side.
I don’t think we have to change too much our style of play. He has charisma, a good age now, a leader and hopefully he will be a leader in our group.
Tammy Abraham – how is his future at the club looking? Bring us up to speed.
There are always possibilities that players leave us, especially in the same position as Romelu.
The situation for Tammy is clear, obviously it is discussed. I spoke many times about it but at the moment, there is no news.
We have a good relationship, he is our player and he is in the squad so has a chance to play.
The next few days after that we will see what happens, what is Tammy’s wish and the possibilities but right now, on Friday afternoon, the focus is on Saturday and not on his situation.
Plenty of people think you are title favourites this season – does that surprise you?
Yes it does surprise me.
Everybody who can read can see we came fourth and we needed some help on the last matchday to arrive in fourth place to make it a successful season.
When you come fourth, you are not favourite the next season. We have some gaps to close, we let Liverpool pass us in the last match and we have a big gap to close to Manchester United and Manchester City.
I see the transfer market from City and United so I don’t see any reasons why they should be any worse than last season. They improved their squad, they are stable and very very strong teams. No, we are hungry and the challengers for top four first of all and after that we want to challenge everyone for the best possible outcome.
We are not scared to fight for every title that we compete in, including the cups, Champions League and Premier League. It is not worth breaking our heads about being favourites or not. It is the process that counts and being on our best every single day to be in some part of the game on the same level and improve other parts of our game, do this day in, day out and be ready to compete.
We know very well that you need luck and momentum and then we will see.
Are you and your squad better than last season?
Maybe not for tomorrow because we feel tomorrow that we need time to be in the best physical shape given our special preparation with three or four groups of players arriving back at different times.
This situation has not changed and I hope and want that we play with the mentality to hunt Man City, Man United and Liverpool, not from January but from Saturday onwards.
The only way to do it is to be in the best shape tomorrow mentally and physically to ensure that, with our supporters back in the stadium, that we have three points on our side. But this is the mentality that we approach this season. We see ourselves as hunters and challengers for the three teams that finished above us.
It is always like this when you finish in the first four that there are sixteen teams wanting to steal points from you. You have to be aware and at your best. This is the mentality which we want to have.
Looking forward to your first game at a nearly-full Stamford Bridge?
Hopefully, it changes the whole game and coaching. It is good that we have had our experiences in our half season. We have these positive experiences in two finals.
It has created a certain bond that we can rely on. We are happy with the attitude and mentality of the group and hopefully we can show this energy because I truly believe this is the energy that spectators want to see all over the world. You don’t go to the stadium only wanting a victory, you go to feel your team and have that bond. That special energy and attitude.
This is on us to produce this in every match at Stamford Bridge and it will be give and take with the spectators. They will also be on their best level and onside with their enthusiasm. It will make it hard to play against us at home.
Erling Haaland or Romelu Lukaku?
Yes, we tried to sign both and wanted Lewandowski as a number ten in behind. Unfortunately, the board didn’t listen and we only have Romelu.
You could have got Lionel Messi too….
Yes, we missed a lot of opportunities in the transfer market and that’s why you find me very upset and not wanting to continue. No!
We had a certain profile and we are very happy with the mentality and attitude of the group. We wanted it to stay like this. It is not a given to have this in a group. it is precious and can be decisive in football. In my opinion, it is decisive and we are very careful and want to protect it. It was not about bringing the most possible amount of players into this group.
We had to be sure that the player was good enough, in the right state of mind and can give with his personality to improve us. We wanted to be as sure as we can with this transfer. There are always doubts with transfers but we are very sure with Romelu because he knows the club and what Chelsea is about. It is like this.
Are you under more pressure now that you have signed Lukaku?
Maybe but Man City is doing the same, they are improving their squad. Manchester United are improving their squad. I don’t see us as the only one trying to improve our squad and closing the gap by only bringing players.
This would not be enough because everybody else is doing the same. So from this point of view maybe the others are ahead of us and the gap is more open and getting bigger.
But bringing quality, mentality and personality is always welcome and I don’t feel it increases the pressure on me, it makes life more exciting as a coach because we believe that this is a strong addition to our group.
We are happy Romelu is here, we have a lot of games to play and another competition in December in the World Cup and we come from a strange pre-season with European Championship and Copa America so I’m pretty sure we need strong players for the level we demand.
Finding life a lot better now that you have settled in England?
Work is work and family is family but of course now that I have found a house I don’t live in a hotel anymore, it makes life much more enjoyable.
But I hope that the last half year that nobody found a manager being impatient or in a bad mood because he could not see his family. The circumstances were like this, everybody had to adapt and this is what I demanded from myself that I adapt like I demanded from my players.
I am super happy we have spectators back in the stadium. It makes things easier on one side because I am very sure everybody is happy to push because we can create with our style of play and the energy a certain atmosphere where it can become very difficult to play against us.
At the same time things get more difficult to coach and to have precise coaching signals to speak to the players at the sideline, they cannot hear you anymore. But we are excited and I’m very excited. From tomorrow we start the season.
Team news for the weekend – how is Hakim Ziyech?
Hakim will miss the game for sure because of his injury. The decision is made, it will be treated conservatively. In the moment the situation is like this that we don’t need the surgery, which is very, very good news for this kind of problem. We hope it continues like this and he can be back on the pitch in the next two weeks. We cannot promise but this is what we hope.
We have some issues with N’Golo Kante, we need to sort it out, from the game. It is from the final.
Physically it was the worst thing that could happen to us in the stages we are in right now, to play 120 minutes. Mentally and psychologically it was the best thing because to win on penalties gives you an enormous boost and this is a huge boost of positive energy and feelings.
For tomorrow we have to be careful the decisions are not made yet who starts, who do we push over the line? The recommendation is for some to do 60-70 minutes, whom do we push to do another 90. It is hard to predict the physical demands from tomorrow’s game and the decisions are not made yet.
We will take our time and do the latest decisions tomorrow. We have one more night, this is maybe the most important thing to have good sleep to eat good, drink good and overcome some difficult moments tomorrow physically.
Will it be tough? Will we be tired? Of course. Is it a close match to the final? Yes. All the reasons are there but it is our demand to ourselves to overcome these obstacles and not complain about them. We want to be in the best shape possible and we will have in mind that this is not the same that we are in six weeks, but for tomorrow we want to reach the 100 percent possible to be able to beat Crystal Palace.
Source by Football London