Thomas Tuchel said he would not quit before the end of the season after Chelsea put their uncertain situation to one side and beat Newcastle United thanks to a brilliant goal from Kai Havertz.
Chelsea are in a state of limbo after the UK government imposed sanctions on the club's owner Roman Abramovich, and they risk falling into major financial difficulties after being granted a special licence to continue operating. However, there is optimism that a sale could go through soon, with potential bidders given until Friday to submit proposals, and interested parties will no doubt be encouraged to hear that Tuchel has no plans to leave at the moment.
“There’s no doubt I stay until the end of the season,” the Chelsea manager said. “We just have to wait day by day because everything can change. The club is for sale but hopefully it goes through. So day by day, which is a good way to live your life. There are circumstances we can’t influence but that gives us the freedom to focus on the things we can influence.
Our statement that we condemn war and what happens in Ukraine doesn't change. There is no doubt
“The focus is on the first team, our players and me. But Chelsea is much more than just the first team. It is a massive club with huge tradition and there are hundreds of staff – it’s not just the players – and it’s important we show the spirit and give them the distraction.”
Tuchel was asked whether he found it strange that Chelsea have been targeted because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine while there has been relatively little attention on Newcastle, who are owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. It was announced on Saturday that 81 people were executed in the previous 24 hours in Saudi Arabia, which is also waging war in Yemen.
“That’s a big question,” Tuchel said. “Unfortunately, the situation is like this for the owners of Newcastle. What can I say? I don’t want to point the finger because comparing yourself and blaming others doesn’t change our situation. Our statement that we condemn war and what happens in Ukraine doesn’t change. There is no doubt.
“At some point we have to trust the process, the process of the league to control who owns a club. We are only employees and need to trust the process. Like you need to trust the process when you work for a company doing ethically and morally wrong things. Sometimes we need to ask questions of the process, how this goes, it’s maybe an ongoing process and it will never end and just reminds us to be aware and conscious about it and not look away.”
Eddie Howe was asked about the executions and Newcastle fans brandishing Saudi Arabia flags on Sunday. "I'm just going to stick to football," Newcastle's manager said. "I'm still bitterly disappointed about the result."
The impact of the sanctions on Abramovich were obvious here. No programmes were on sale, the club shop was shut and the atmosphere inside and outside the ground often felt subdued. Chelsea have appealed to the government to ease further the terms of the licence.
The British property tycoon Nick Candy has vowed to put a fan representative on the board if his bid to buy Chelsea succeeds. "We welcome the news that the sale of the club will be conducted quickly," a spokesperson for Candy said. "This is a reassuring development for fans after a week of great uncertainty. Mr Candy cares hugely about the future of the club and believes that the fans and the community are central to its continued success.
“Should his bid be successful, Mr Candy would advocate for a fan representative to join the board so supporters become part of the decision-making process. If the club requires money to operate in the short term, Mr Candy would be happy to help ensure it has the necessary financial resources, subject to government approval.”
A consortium headed by Todd Boehly, Hansjörg Wyss and Jonathan Goldstein are the frontrunners to buy the club. A bid is also expected from Saudi Media.