Business at usual at Chelsea despite sanctions insists Thomas Tuchel

Chelsea women’s boss Emma Hayes calls for patience with her squad also affected

At the end of one of the strangest days in the history of English football, Thomas Tuchel suggested it was "business as usual" for Chelsea as the European champions eased to a 3-1 win against Norwich just a few short hours after the club had been placed in suspended animation by government sanctions.

It is a mark of how profound the turbulence around Chelsea has become that Tuchel has already developed an effective public manner for dealing with questions about the club ownership. Links to the warmongering regime of Vladimir Putin? Chants from fans about sanctions? Tuchel has been left to field these issues. But he was brusque and impressively straight-batted at Carrow Road.

“The evening did not feel strange,” he said. “It helps sometimes to have a fixed schedule. You use it to give you structure, to feel safe, to have lunch together, to have your meetings. It helps you to be in that mood. There is another level of distraction with the sanctions, we could feel it and the disturbance around it, but we accepted it. The excitement and love of the game helps us.

“The team showed very good character. We can be proud that they performed like this under the circumstances. The squad and the structure and the culture in the club is right.”

Asked about the gleefully provocative chants of the away section, which gloried the name of Roman Abramovich and referenced UK sanctions related to the deaths of Ukrainian civilians, Tuchel replied: "I did not hear them and did not understand them. It's the first time I heard about them and I prefer not to comment."

Chelsea were relieved in the end to escape some late Norwich pressure before scoring their third goal through the excellent Kai Havertz. But Tuchel was adamant this had nothing to do with off-field pressures.

“[The players] were relieved because of the game,” he said. “We were in control but then the opponent got stronger. They had nothing to lose, they took more risks and we struggled to adapt. That was the relief, not the situation, the sanctions. That will not go away.”

The sanctions imposed on Abramovich also affect Chelsea's women's side. Speaking after their 4-1 victory over West Ham in the Women's Super League on Thursday evening, Emma Hayes described the developments earlier in the day as a "big moment" for Chelsea but also called for patience from all associated with the club.

“We’re aware of the things that are going on – we read, we watch television,” the manager said. “You know, there’s bigger situations. And yes, today is a big moment for the club. But I believe in giving both sides the time to get it right going forward. I think it is important for the players, the staff, the fans to be patient. Let’s sort through that. And hopefully that process won’t take too long.

“I said to the players, our job is to do what we’ve always done and they’re the only things that I can control. So, it’s not difficult to focus on that because we’re doing something we love. And yes, there’s uncertainty. I think preoccupying our minds too much with that is only going to add to it. So, I don’t [let it consume me] to be honest with you. I just try to get things right from game to game.”

- Guardian