Thomas Tuchel has warned his Chelsea stars they must not develop a fear of losing as they bid to extend their unbeaten run under his leadership.
Former Paris Saint-Germain head coach Tuchel believes having an obsession with avoiding defeat can peck away at the appetite to win, and he pointed to discussions with a top cycling boss as reinforcing his views.
Tuchel did not name the Team Sky leader with whom he once spoke about the mentality needed to be a champion in sport.
That individual was likely to have been Dave Brailsford, the long-time manager of the cycling squad which has since been rebranded as Team INEOS.
“I spoke many years ago here in London to the leader of the cycling team of Sky, and he was very, very concerned about the feeling, not to enter a state of mind where you fear the loss more than the hunger, than the adventure to maybe win,” Tuchel said.
“To refocus is always at the process. If we look too much at what we have achieved… maybe you step back and want to protect it, but I want us always to be brave and go for the next win and not to avoid the loss.”
Chelsea face Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-finals at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, looking to go deeper into the competition as Tuchel looks for a trophy from his first half-season at the helm.
Last time out against The Blades… pic.twitter.com/xGalR61eEn
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 20, 2021
By racking up 13 games unbeaten since taking over, Tuchel has established a club record for the longest run of games without defeat by a new Chelsea boss.
“The record is already history and the next game is Sheffield. This one game, this is the most important,” Tuchel said.
“I demand from myself and the team and everybody the maximum and then we will see. If we have all this, it is possible to have big records, but I hope we don’t enter into situations where we are more afraid of losing a record than winning the next game.”
The Blues are also through to the Champions League quarter-finals and are chasing a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Tuchel says he has never treated any match as more important than another and says his players must “control our energy and our mentality”, even if they cannot be certain of achieving the right results.
“This is what I demand from my team: to prepare in the best way possible and get the head straight and be out with the same competitive attitude like we played the last 13 matches,” he said. “This is it at the highest level. You can never relax.”
When it comes to his squad, Tuchel knows he cannot keep every player entirely happy, with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Billy Gilmour struggling to break into his team at present.
He is determined to stay close to every player and keep them fully connected with his plans for them.
“Is there always good news in these talks? No, there is not,” Tuchel said. “But if you need to give the feedback, this is clearly my job to do, to give honest feedback, open feedback, direct feedback.
“And so, it makes it easier for them to understand what we expect and what role they can fulfil, even if it maybe does not match with the way they wanted to have it.
“There are hard decisions to make, which is a good thing, because it shows you have a good squad.”