Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi endured one of football’s worst ignominies as he was dragged off just 30 minutes after coming on as a substitute as Blues manager Thomas Tuchel showed his ruthless streak in a draw at Southampton.
Hudson-Odoi was introduced by Tuchel at half-time at St Mary’s in a bid to bring Chelsea back into the game as they found themselves 1-0 down after Takumi Minamino’s 33rd-minute finish.
But the 20-year-old evidently failed to make the impact expected as he was hooked after 76 minutes, being replaced by Moroccan Hakim Ziyech.
By that point Chelsea had equalized through a Mason Mount penalty, although Tuchel’s men failed to pick up a fifth consecutive Premier League win under the German as the score remained 1-1.
Chelsea will see it as two points dropped against a Southampton team which had been on a disastrous run of six league defeats on the spin heading into the game.
Some speculated that Tuchel may have removed England winger Hudson-Odoi for fitness reasons, although the German was clear afterwards that he was unimpressed with what he’d seen.
“We brought on [Hudson-Odoi] but I was not happy with the attitude, energy and counter-pressing so we took him off because I demand a lot,” the 47-year-old said.
“He was not in a position to help us. It’s tough, but tomorrow it’s forgotten and he has possibilities to start against Atletico [in the Champions League].”
The Chelsea boss rued his team’s failure to convert their 71 percent of possession into greater dividends.
“We had chances and possibilities to take a deserved win but sometimes it’s like this in football,” Tuchel said.
“In the last 20 minutes I was not happy, we were not decisive, aggressive or clinical enough to create big chances.
“Decision-making was not good today so it was hard and if you need a penalty to score once it tells the story.”
Some sections of the Chelsea faithful wondered whether Tuchel had “lost the plot” for hooking off Hudson-Odoi so soon after bringing him on – and suggested that the former Paris Saint-Germain boss would find life much tougher in the Premier League than over in France.
CHO coming off??? Tuchel has lost the plot what on earth.
— Mod (@CFCMod_) February 20, 2021
Tommy Tuchel thinks he can come to the premier league, have 90% possession and just wait for Mbappe or Neymar to finish it off. Different gravy to the Deliveroo league I’m afraid
— ‘ (@vintageredss) February 20, 2021
Others, however, blamed Saturday’s limp showing firmly on the playing personnel that Tuchel had deployed.
If I’m Thomas Tuchel, I’d be fuming… On the players today, no other way around it. Chelsea’s first real blip. Lessons learned. We go again.
— Dan McCarthy (@MaccaSport) February 20, 2021
Tuchel: Tammy Abraham was not injured and was taken off because he did not put his stamp on the game. Callum Hudson-Odoi was also not injured- I was not happy with his energy and counter pressing so I took him off.” Absolutely brutal. pic.twitter.com/U7TtCUOt4s
— FootballFunnys (@FootballFunnnys) February 20, 2021
Tuchel remains unbeaten in seven games as Chelsea boss since taking over from the sacked Frank Lampard at the end of January, but has enjoyed a somewhat gentle introduction in terms of opposition.
That will change in the coming weeks, starting with Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid, in a match which has been moved to Bucharest due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Beyond that, Chelsea face fellow top-four contenders Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton.
The tough run of fixtures prompted fans to state that Tuchel’s relatively gentle introduction to life at Stamford Bridge was about to change, and fast.
Dear Mr Tuchel,Your honeymoon period as Chelsea manager is now over.Time to get down to some serious football business.Atlético Madrid (a)Manchester United (h)Liverpool (a)Everton (h)Leeds United (a)Atlético Madrid (h)Wishing you the very best of luck.RegardsMarco pic.twitter.com/KKsCqT10e1
— Mark Worrall (@gate17marco) February 20, 2021
The draw at Southampton keeps Chelsea fourth in the Premier League table, one point ahead of West Ham but having played one game more.
As Tuchel’s team roll towards the business end of the season, the German proved on Saturday that he is unlikely to tolerate any passengers.