Thomas Tuchel has charged his men ahead UEFA Super Cup Clash against Villarreal in Belfast to emulate Poyet’s spirit in 1998 to win the Super Cup for the second time.
‘Does anybody have the recipe how to do better after a Champions League victory?’ started Tuchel. ‘I don’t know. I don’t have it. It was my first Champions League win. It doesn’t feel like pressure because this is what we demand of ourselves.
‘I demand of myself to get better every day, to use my experiences to be the best coach possible, to lead by example, to come to Cobham full of energy in a good mood and ready to continue the journey together. It has just started and hopefully it will be a long journey.
‘The courage now is to face the challenge. The courage is to step up and demand we develop and improve certain things. There were things in our game in the last half-a-season we were very strong at, and we have to maintain that.
‘We have to clearly rebuild the same spirit that put us in the possibility to have all these results. There are a lot of different tasks to fulfil. The most important is we don’t lose sight of that by thinking too much about pressure or expectations.’
Preparation for the new campaign hasn’t been easy for Tuchel and his staff in the wake of a condensed 2020/21 season that went the distance, and then a pair of international tournaments in which Chelsea players went far.
‘It’s been pretty demanding,’ acknowledged the boss.
‘I will tell the story backwards. We arrived here with some players who actually have had one in-house game for 45 minutes, and with some players who have been training for five weeks, and who have four matches in their legs. It’s a widely spread group regarding their physical level.
‘I’m absolutely happy to have the support of the physical department, who did an amazing job to really treat every group individually, and provide the training that was necessary every single day. We have done the best we could, we have had fantastic support, and we arrive to play an important match which is absolutely fine for us.
‘For a lot of players, the preparation to a very demanding season will continue over the next weeks. We will be in much better shape after the next international break.’
Chelsea legend Poyet share his amazing moment when Chelsea won their first UEFA Super Cup in 1998.
For Poyet, who had missed much of the previous campaign through injury, the goal was one of his favourites from his time at Chelsea.
‘The only final I scored in in my life was against Real Madrid, in the Super Cup, so I cannot forget that moment, scoring in a final and being able to win,’ he told us in an interview in 2019, when asked to pick out his most memorable games as a Blue.
Chelsea held on to become only the fifth English side to lift the trophy. Victory over such a prestigious side proved to be a thrill for players both young and old.
‘After the game, me and Jody [Morris] went to the Real Madrid changing room and asked the kitman if he could get two shirts for us in exchange for ours,’ Duberry added. ‘Ten minutes later, the Duberry and Morris shirts come back out! So we asked Marcel to get the shirts for us, and I think we ended up with just replica Real Madrid shirts, I don’t even think there were any names on them!’
Le Saux had a bit more joy, although he’s not sure the legend he swapped shirts with places as much importance on his Le Saux 14 jersey…
‘I swapped shirts with Raul after the game and I’m a proud owner of a Raul shirt,’ he said. ‘And he’s extremely proud that he’s got a Le Saux shirt, I think he washes his car with it! I saw Luis Figo a few years after the game and I played against him a couple of times at international level and I said to him “I’ve still got your shirt at home” and the look he gave me suggested he hasn’t still got mine…’
Wise, typically sums it up best when he describes our Super Cup triumph as ‘fun – you know, it was fun because Real Madrid were expected to win. They thought they were going to pass it about and do their little thing and walk away with the trophy. Obviously we weren’t prepared to let them to do that.’
It remains the only time we have lifted the trophy, with each of our subsequent three Super Cup matches ending in defeat – the last two on penalties. Here’s hoping a new set of happy memories are made when we face another Spanish side, Villarreal, in Belfast on Wednesday.