Chelsea hero Joe Cole delivers surprising verdict on Thomas Tuchel’s Callum Hudson-Odoi ‘gamble’

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Former Chelsea star Joe Cole says that Thomas Tuchel’s decision to substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi after bringing him on against Southampton was “brave” and “bold”, but added that it was a gamble that could backfire among a notoriously “fragmented” dressing room.

Hudson-Odoi was introduced at half-time of the Blues’ 1-1 draw against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side at St Mary’s, replacing Tammy Abraham with Tuchel’s side trailing 1-0 at the break.

Hudson-Odoi found Mason Mount inside the area, who was then brought down for a penalty which he dispatched to level the scores.

But with 15 minutes remaining of the match, Hudson-Odoi was replaced by Hakim Ziyech, with Tuchel explaining after the game that he was not happy with the attacker’s energy, attitude or counter-pressing.

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Cole says that it was a big moment for the new Chelsea boss less than two months into his time at Stamford Bridge, but it could prove to be good management if Hudson-Odoi features and plays a prominent role in Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid.

“It’s a very strong way to go, and it’s his first spiky moment,” Cole told BT Sport. “We knew from his reputation, he is strong, he will make decisions. And that is bold.

“Because Callum [Hudson-Odoi], when he came on wasn’t having a great game when he came on, but you’re a moments player in that position. Sometimes, we watch [Lionel] Messi in the week – and of course I’m not comparing Callum to Messi, but he was strolling around and then he’ll give you a moment of magic. Callum can give you a moment of magic, you know that.

“But for him to say that he wasn’t happy with his energy, that’s a bold move from Tuchel and it’s a gamble because notoriously the Chelsea dressing room can be fragmented over the last 10 years, and I just question whether it was unnecessary at the time to upset a player who is maybe going to play for you on Tuesday night.

“Maybe it’s managerial genius. Maybe Callum starts on Tuesday night and gives us the performance of his life. But he’s a fantastic young player who will be fuming with that today. You look at him walking off the pitch and he was fuming. Tuchel has taken that decision and I do think it might be a message to his team, and it’s brave because Callum is not going to be happy with that.”

Cole said that the decision sends out a message to the Chelsea team, and how they respond to that will be crucial ahead of the tie against Diego Simeone’s team on Tuesday.

“He’s had six weeks to get to know the players, their personalities,” Cole added. “He’s done that because he thought it was the right thing to do at the time.

“The next 24 hours is crucial. The next training session, how he addresses it. Because it’s a big thing. To bring a player on to change a game and then take him off – irrespective of age or personality type – it’s still a big thing: it sends out a message. You have to live or die by your messages and what you give out as a manager.

“So how the dressing room react to it, to Callum coming off – it’s bold. I’ve not seen many managers doing that, especially this early on. So it shows that he wants to stamp his authority on it.

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“I’m not sure it’s the right thing. Because one: I think Callum could have changed the game. Even if he loses the ball 10 times, he could have that one moment.

“We lacked penetration in the last 20 metres, I agree with Tuchel there. Today wasn’t our day in that sense. Leave Callum on the pitch. In my opinion, he can make something happen.

“We’re talking about that now rather than something else, maybe? I don’t know, it’s a hard one to understand.”





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