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10. Christian Pulisic


nachikethas
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Where is this talk of him leaving coming from? There is more chance of him becoming player on Sterling, Mane, Salah level than being a flop.

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What a lovely little ball for the 4th that was.

Read an article today that shows at present his productivity with and without the ball is overall pretty poor compared to the other players in his position. He averages fewer tackles per 90 mins

Everyone has their opinion and I respect that but I just find his apprehension (if that's the right word) towards Pulisic somewhat bemusing. Loan him out to learn his trade? Really? If Pulisic was som

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Chelsea have big plans for Pulisic. He must be patient under Tuchel

https://theathletic.com/2435207/2021/03/14/Chelsea-have-big-plans-for-pulisic-he-must-be-patient-under-tuchel/

It was Hakim Ziyech who threw the hissy fit when the board went up midway through the second half, his face fixed in a scowl as he tossed away the water bottle handed to him upon his replacement and retreated to a seat up in the stand at Elland Road. The team-mate who accompanied him from the turf kept his emotions rather more buried, as is Christian Pulisic’s style. The United States international merely accepted the water and energy drink pressed into his hand, then the club-issue puffer jacket, and climbed the steps lost in thought.

The forward’s sense of frustration, while subdued, will have been just as acute. This had been his big opportunity, the first Premier League start offered to him by Thomas Tuchel and a chance to show he deserves more than a bit-part role off the bench as this team challenge on three fronts. “It is the moment for him to step up,” the head coach had mentioned in one of his pre-match interviews and yet, a bright start aside, it had not amounted to much. Not as much as the player would have hoped, anyway.

Perhaps had Kai Havertz made better contact when reaching Pulisic’s centre early on and actually forced it beyond a sprawling Illan Meslier, then the focus might have been more on the burst of pace that had taken the winger away from a rattled Ezgjan Alioski in the build-up. Maybe, had Chelsea’s forwards not designated the six-yard box a no-go zone, Meslier would have been punished for pushing out another fizzed low Pulisic cross minutes later. For that matter, if the loose ball that cannoned off Diego Llorente had billowed the net rather than bounced down off the crossbar, then more might have been made of the neat one-two summoned by Pulisic and Havertz to provoke such panic at the centre of the Leeds defence.

Instead, his performance rather fizzled out, much like that of his team on this dismal playing surface and in a howling wind, with his craving for involvement drowned out amid Tuchel’s barked instructions— “Higher!”, “Wider!” — across the play. A sense that he had fluffed his lines will have pursued him as he retired 68 minutes in, for all that he had done well to snuff out Raphinha at the far post moments earlier and tested Meslier himself just before the hour-mark.

He had been yearning for a spark, a goal to ignite his season after 18 scoreless outings stretching back to Chelsea’s last meeting with Leeds back in early December. The vast majority of his recent appearances, since the club’s mid-season change in management, have been cameos; mere flirtations with contests late on in a team still striving for proper invention and incision. Too many have passed him by. That he only mustered 45 touches at Elland Road, a tally only Ziyech failed to match from Chelsea’s starters, suggested another afternoon spent on the periphery.

There was a collective failure in the visitors’ approach. “We have a strong squad and everybody deserves to and, at some point, needs to play, to show and to feel that I trust them, but (we were) not clinical enough on the counter-attacks,” was Tuchel’s honest assessment. “Not enough determination and precision in the last touch.

“Our strikers never stopped working, our frontline never stopped the intensity and counter-pressing, but do they always arrive in the freshest moment? No, they don’t. But I believe we have enough quality to use the moments, the half-chances, better and to create more and be more clinical.”

It will have been easy for Pulisic to have read into those criticisms, reinforcing the sense this was an opportunity missed. The player will stew over that, so desperate is he to recover some of the post-lockdown zest that illuminated Chelsea’s run-in to last season. At present, these are trying times.

His toils require context. Pulisic ripped his hamstring in the FA Cup final at the beginning of August, an occasion he had earlier decorated with his fifth goal in 11 matches since the resumption of football, which denied him any kind of pre-season even in the rejigged calendar. It has been stop-start ever since. He has never generated any real rhythm over the current campaign, not least with twinges and minor strains regularly checking his progress. There have been nine injuries since the start of last season, evidence of an underlying fragility that was evident earlier in his career and on which the club are working, but, inevitably, that will play on the mind of a player for whom explosive pace is such an asset.

When he did enjoy a prolonged run in the side, it coincided with the unravelling of Frank Lampard’s tenure, a period when results flatlined and belief waned throughout the group. Maybe he could have contributed more to arrest that decline, grasping the initiative as a figure of influence within the team, but the collective was enduring a crisis of confidence at the time. He was as affected as anyone. The problem for Pulisic is that, since the change at the top, things have arguably become harder.

Pulisic was one of only two players at Chelsea with whom Tuchel had previously worked and, in many ways, he has been a victim of that familiarity. The German, parachuted into a mid-season crisis, has spent his brief time at Cobham scrutinising those he inherited, learning their qualities and assessing their shortcomings. Pulisic, in contrast, was a player he already knew. He was the forward who had played 38 times as a teenager in the Bundesliga under his stewardship at Borussia Dortmund.

Half of those appearances had been off the bench. Tuchel was already au fait with the winger’s ability to inject pace and energy into a contest as a substitute. So, given so much else was alien to him upon his arrival at Stamford Bridge, it was perhaps only natural that he initially reverted to type and used Pulisic in cameos. After all, as other members of the Chelsea hierarchy have privately acknowledged, back at Borussia, the forward had been very effective in the role. There was a logic to that decision.

The head coach has since admitted that instinctive reaction was rather “unfair”. “But I just know what impact he can have in the last 20 minutes or 30 minutes with his power and strength,” said Tuchel. “It isn’t a lack of trust or quality. It is just that he will have to be patient.”

That word, in truth, has cropped up rather too often for comfort of late.

He has only played 282 minutes for the new head coach in the Premier League to date, including Saturday’s outing at Elland Road, and was ring-rusty after hamstring trouble on his only previous start, at Barnsley in the FA Cup on another scarred surface. Those close to him find it hard to accept the super-sub tag, not least because Pulisic is a better player now than he was at Dortmund, and presumably less accepting of such a role given his stature.

The lack of an obvious pecking order up front — for all that Tuchel appears of late to have prioritised the revitalisation of the club’s more recent expensive imports from the Bundesliga, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz — has given attacking selections a rather chaotic feel and further confused Pulisic’s status. Nevertheless, he has proved an eager and committed trainer, working diligently to impress, and has probably warranted greater involvement.

The 22-year-old has cut a frustrated figure on the fringes. “He is a dedicated guy who is hungry for success — visibly more hungry than some of the others,” says one source. “People see he is quiet and assume he is shy, but he is intense and driven. He wants to be the best, whether that is down to the pressure he feels as a key player for his country, or the pressure he puts on himself to succeed. He wants to play all of the time.” That would even extend to operating in the left wing-back role more usually taken by Marcos Alonso, with the attacking freedom from which the Spaniard has benefited to relaunch his career at the club. Pulisic would relish the space Alonso regularly enjoys.

Except he is still waiting for that opportunity having started on Saturday on the right of midfield in a rejigged formation. Regardless, his disappointment at Elland Road will have been born of a failure to make a proper impression for the new man at the helm.

For some, all of this will feel surprising. The assumption had been that, given Tuchel was the coach who had first granted him his senior chance at Dortmund, Pulisic would relish rekindling their relationship. Yet whether the player will have welcomed this latest change in management is open to question. There would undoubtedly have been a wariness at the assumption he would be a favourite from the outset given the pair’s previous association, which may have driven a quiet character to withdraw further, but they were never bosom buddies in Westphalia.

Regardless, further disruption just as he appeared to have convinced Lampard of his pedigree would hardly have felt ideal. The forward has only been a Chelsea player for a little over two years but must already be dizzied by the regular changes in the dug-out.

The original sales pitch to lure Pulisic from Dortmund had actually been delivered by Maurizio Sarri in late 2018, for all that the Italian later feigned public surprise to learn that a £58 million deal had actually been struck. Sarri had prepared a video presentation of clips of his Napoli team’s attacking patterns, providing the prospective new signing with a detailed breakdown of how he intended to take his game to the next level. The youngster was enthused at the idea of working for the Italian and the role he would play in Sarri-ball.

And yet, by the time Pulisic arrived in England, Sarri was long gone.

It would take time to convince Lampard of his value to the side, not least because Pulisic did not readily come out of his shell. He is still young and was tentative at first, playing within himself and apparently reluctant to use that distinctive burst of pace as he felt his way into life at a new club. Once he settled, his club-mates and management marvelled at his natural ability and drive, christening him “Captain America”, with his best form reserved for that period after the resumption.

Yet he remained overtly unemotional — “He is a man of one fixed expression,” suggested one figure close to the player — if quietly determined, and, while the head coach came to value his contribution, he and Lampard were never particularly close. Some have suggested they were actually too similar, two characters almost reluctant to open up. A wariness remained. Pulisic never felt first-choice even last season when things were going well.

He found his periods in rehabilitation hardest, not least living on his own in London with no obvious release or distraction from the bubble, but he has always been prone to internalise and stews on things when they are going awry. The constant churn in the dug-out can hardly have helped him settle. There is always the fear that a player may not fit into a new coach’s preferred system, or that his face will simply not fit. Even well into his second season at the club, it is hard to argue that his adaptation has been straightforward.

“I hope he will (be patient),” said Tuchel, responding to a flurry of stories last week that had suggested the player’s dissatisfaction at a bit-part role might prompt him to seek a challenge elsewhere. “When you sign to play for Chelsea, this is part of the job description, as a player, to be impatient and patient at the same time. Impatient because all my players are competitors. All of them want to play every single minute, and this is what they all show, every day.

“The hunger and desire, this is what Christian shows. At the same time, when you’re not selected by the coach, you have to also be patient, to not lose confidence, and to keep on going and be ready at any time. It can happen at any time.”

Maybe it will in the weeks ahead, whether against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Sheffield United in the FA Cup or once the Premier League resumes after the international break.

Gregg Berhalter’s United States squad meet up for friendlies later this month against Jamaica (to be played in Austria) and Northern Ireland at Windsor Park. Pulisic may welcome the release of being able to spend time with Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, team-mates in the national set-up with whom he has become close. A change of scenery, if only for 10 days, might be beneficial after the claustrophobia of life in a lonely bubble in London. He had made the point of linking up with the squad back in November for the games against Wales and Panama even though he had no chance of featuring. Just being in the camp may serve to revitalise him and be beneficial when it comes to building up confidence.

Certainly, within the US set-up, there is a belief that the player’s quality will shine through and earn him more regular involvement at club level. That word, patience, has been mentioned yet again. Berhalter’s staff and the clubs where all his players perform enjoy regular dialogue and a mutual exchange of information. A few eyebrows may have been raised at the slow start that Pulisic has made under Tuchel, but there is faith that class will eventually out. Besides, the key fixtures in their calendar start in the autumn, when their CONCACAF qualification campaign for next year’s World Cup commences.

Berhalter will need his star forward fit and firing by then but, for now, there is no need to panic.

That is the underlying sentiment, too, at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea consider Pulisic a key member of their squad. Even if opportunities remain limited in the weeks and months ahead — a scenario Tuchel does not envisage — there would be no appetite on their part to move him on in the summer. He is a young player of talent, an established international who would not benefit from joining their ranks of loanees, and a player upon whom they are pinning much hope. There will be few clubs in the post-pandemic market who boast the funds to prise him away, and his current employers consider him a major player for the future.

“He is in my plans,” offered Tuchel. “He is an important player and he has the potential to be decisive for us from the bench and as a beginner. Is it necessary that he can prove it? Yes. But this is my job, and his job is to be ready, like everybody else. This is what you sign up for at a club like Chelsea.”

At Leeds, he offered only glimpses of his qualities, nothing more. The player himself may not have resorted to flinging water bottles in a strop around the stand, but even his deadpan expression betrayed dissatisfaction at the way things had turned out. As frustrating as it is, he is enduring a dip in form, but his time will come.

Patience.

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He will turn good, just needs to find his rhythm again, took Callum almost a year after his injury to get back to the level prior, same here needs the time, his class and talent is there.

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Great skilling yesterday but no benefit from it, pointless performance again. If we wanted this, we could have just keep Kenedy with the team.

 

He clearly has the talent, hope he’ll improve because this is not enough.

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He played well. It is funny that people are giving Timo credit when he is having a good game but not scoring, but are super harsh on Pulisic. I hope he comes good, but there is no sense in ragging the kid when he plays well. Of all the bad performance yesterday, his was not one of them.

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Yeah thought he did well yesterday too. That touch to control the ball in the second half after the Sheffield United mistake was sublime. 

It appears our attackers are now picking up form at a pivotal part of our season. Just fingers crossed, knock on wood, pray to Allah no injuries in the international break. 

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How did Pulisic tweak his hamstring by the smallest of runs? Same thing happened at Burnley earlier this season.

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13 minutes ago, Jason said:

How did Pulisic tweak his hamstring by the smallest of runs? Same thing happened at Burnley earlier this season.

Bad genetics

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8 minutes ago, killer1257 said:

Bad genetics

Makes me think back to when I heard a medical guy talking about Michael Owen having a weak hamstring which can never be healed and how it would cut short his peak years as a player. The medic said this well before Owen started to decline.

I always thought that hamstrings could be 100% healed with proper rest, but the medic was sadly proved right. I just hope that Puli isn't another Owen, especially as he's one of the very few players we have with the level of ability we need.

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Thing with Owen is that he had multiple tears. Multiple tears of the hamstring leave indents in the hamstring where the muscle tissue initially was, making the hamstring weaker and more prone to injuries. 

I'm not sure if Pulisic suffered any hamstring injuries in the severity of Owen. Just hoping proper rehab can get rid of the problem. 

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Great talent but his body isn't up to it. This isn't something new.. this has been going on since he was a teenager. Dortmund didn't give a fuck when they sold him. He was always a bench player for them... and we try to turn him into our poster boy. Jokes on us.

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1 hour ago, Jason said:

How did Pulisic tweak his hamstring by the smallest of runs? Same thing happened at Burnley earlier this season.

The 9th injury he's had since joining us...

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Has a decent run of games, scores a goal to boost his confidence, immediately injured himself and now probably out for a month or two... 1 step forward 10 steps back witht his guy so annoying

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It’s come to a point where the club needs to make a decision on him. Continue to invest in him in the hopes his injuries go away, or sell on. 

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