American star Christian Pulisic has criticized his former coach at Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel, saying that he was “stunned and very disappointed” by the decision not to participate in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid in 2021.
Pulisic started and scored Chelsea’s goal in a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Madrid. However, he started off the bench for the second leg at Stamford Bridge despite Pulisic’s assertion, according to Pulisic, that he will be in the starting lineup.
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“What happened before that match was very disappointing for me,” Pulisic wrote in his forthcoming book, Christian Pulisic: My Journey So Far. Excerpts posted on Tuesday.
“I did really well in the first leg and our next game was against Fulham in the league. Tuchel told me he was resting for me in the second leg and as a result I didn’t play a minute in the Fulham game.
Then on the match day of the second half, Tuchel told me he had changed his mind and was going with Kai [Havertz]. Frankly, I was stunned and very disappointed. I thought I would start, and most importantly, he assured me earlier that I would start.”
Despite working under him previously at Borussia Dortmund, Pulisic struggled to play during Tuchel’s tenure at Stamford Bridge and was linked with a move away from Chelsea this summer. The exit never materialized and Tuchel was replaced as coach by Graham Potter earlier this month.
Adding further insight into his strained relationship with Tuchel, Pulisic said his goal against Real Madrid came after ignoring his coach’s advice at the time.
‘When I took off to run, I heard Thomas Tuchel shouting from the sidelines, ‘Christian, stay in the jeep, don’t run!’ “But I felt I was going to find the space and get to the end of the pass, so I kept running,” he wrote.
Pulisic came off the bench in the second leg against Madrid and assisted Chelsea’s second goal with a 2-0 win. “He was seriously injured,” the Hershey, Pennsylvania native, said when he got on the field and that his assistance to Mason Mount was “probably my all-time favorite.”
Despite the change in coach, Pulisic was just a late substitute in Potter’s first game, as he drew 1-1 with FC Salzburg in the Champions League last week.
Pulisic, 24, is set to be a key player for the United States at this year’s World Cup in Qatar, where he will face Wales, England and Iran in the group stage. The tournament begins on November 20.