The Chelsea head coach watched on from the touchline as his side lost out to the Reds on penalties in a major cup final for the second time in three months, this latest 6-5 reverse following February’s epic shoot-out in the Carabao Cup final.
Once again, it was goalless between the sides after two hours of frantic action, with Marcos Alonso’s free-kick against the woodwork the closest we came to breaking the familiar deadlock
With the trophy decided from 12 yards, captain Cesar Azpilicueta struck the post before Mount was denied by Alisson on another gut-wrenching Wembley afternoon for the England midfielder. This was his sixth defeat in a final at the national stadium as his dream of lifting the FA Cup for the Blues went unfulfilled for another year.
Yet Tuchel was quick to underline the 23-year-old’s importance and insisted one missed spot-kick was not going to change his opinion of the Chelsea Academy graduate, nor undermine his excellent season as a whole.
‘This penalty will change nothing,’ stated Tuchel. ‘You know my opinion about Mason. You see his record and the importance of game which he plays.
‘He plays consistently for us. He’s a key figure in this squad and in this club, also because of where he comes from. He’s a super nice guy and we don’t doubt him now because he misses a penalty.’
Tuchel was also drawn on how we could close the gap to Liverpool, who have now lifted both domestic trophies this term and face Real Madrid in the Champions League final later this month, while trailing Manchester City in the Premier League title race by four points with a game in hand.
The German feels that task has been even more difficult given the club ownership uncertainty and UK Government sanctions at Chelsea in recent months, though he pinpointed consistency as the key given we have drawn all four games against the Reds in normal time this season.
‘Maybe it’s impossible because they are improving their squad in every transfer window they have and it seems like we are losing key players,’ he explained. ‘We are of course losing Toni [Rudiger] and we are losing Andreas [Christensen]. It’s tough because we already have a gap to close.
‘We proved four times this season that we can produce peak performances to compete with them on this kind of level. The difference for me throughout the season is that they can do it on Wednesday again and then they do it on Saturday and Wednesday again, and we struggle.
‘They have a bigger squad available. They arrived with everybody except Fabinho fresh and in the rhythm in a final like this. We struggled with three or four players out. N’Golo Kante had one training session at 50 per cent intensity, Mateo Kovacic played with an ankle that I didn’t know it was possible you can fit into a shoe.
‘They can produce these kind of performances most often and they built this team for many years now and proved it, so this is where the gap is. The sanctions didn’t make it easier for us to close it
We left everything on the pitch, I can be nothing but proud” | Thomas Tuchel post match
Thomas Tuchel reacts to the FA Cup final.
Tuchel pointed to the two trophies already in our cabinet this season, a first FIFA Club World Cup title and the UEFA Super Cup, as reasons to be optimistic but insisted he could only assess our campaign as a whole once the final game was played next weekend.
‘It heavily depends on what we do in the next two games and where we end up, then I will give an honest opinion about it,’ he added. ‘We reached consecutive domestic finals and we reached the FA Cup final last year but nobody can promise any victories.
‘All we promise we can deliver is input, heart, passion and commitment, living up to the fullest and to have no regrets. This is what we do and we will not stop from doing it.
‘We have everything it takes to win trophies and we proved it already. Someone was trying to convince me that we have had a trophyless season but we have a World Cup and a European Super Cup so I will take that for a trophyless season. I don’t feel sorry just because it happened earlier in the season