Football

Tuchel upset with ESL distractions as Blues are held by Brighton

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted that he was clearly unhappy that the fallout over the proposed European Super League (ESL) caused distractions leading up to their 0-0 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Hundreds of fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge to protest the move before the game. Blues legend Petr Cech, now the club's technical adviser, had to plead with them to allow both teams' buses to enter the grounds.

Just before kick-off, it was reported that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had decided to withdraw from the breakaway plan, following a massive backlash from fans.

Manchester City became the first team to pull out, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur also confirming their exits.

Against that dramatic backdrop, Chelsea produced a flat performance, although the draw saw Tuchel's side move into fourth place above West Ham United on goal difference.

"We talk of nothing else but Super League before the match. I was affected so I think the players were affected," Tuchel said.

"The situation was not clear. I was informed like you were informed. You have to accept the distraction.

"We tried to create an atmosphere to win the game but could not. We looked mentally tired."

Brighton nearly snatched the points when Danny Welbeck's 80th-minute curler smacked off the far post.

The Seagulls had Ben White sent off for a second booking in stoppage time, but held on to move seven points clear of the relegation zone.

When the Blues' imminent exit from the ESL became public knowledge, cheers erupted from the fans outside the stadium.

Chelsea fan Dan Silver called it the best decision for the game's future, adding: "No one should ever underestimate football fans again". - AFP

Football