Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel blames pitch, but these managers had wind, ball boys and kit as excuses

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was exhausted on Wednesday night after watching his side plummet to their second defeat in three Premier League games with a dismal 4-2 home loss to Arsenal.

With his side now conceding eight goals in the same period, the German searched desperately for answers during the post-game debrief at Stamford Bridge before finally finding the root of the problem.

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Indeed, the roots were literally the problem for Tuchel, who blamed the state of the pitch for the role he played in Eddie Nketiah’s opening goal when the striker went into hiding after an accidental back pass from Andreas Christensen.

“To say the pitch is difficult to play here might sound like an excuse but we have a very, very difficult pitch here,” grumbled the Chelsea manager. “It’s not in our favour. The ball bounces very, very clumsily in front of Andreas when he wants to play that ball.”

Tuchel also pointed to Edouard Mendy’s mistake in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Real Madrid, which saw the Blues keeper fumble a back pass as Karim Benzema completed his hat-trick in a 3-1 drubbing.

“We made the same mistake against Real Madrid that cost us the next round,” he added. “This [Nketiah’s goal] cost us the next game, I can’t remember when we scored like that.”

Rather than a major betrayal on behalf of the Stamford Bridge turf, it’s also entirely possible that Tuchel’s defenders have simply lost their composure under pressure in recent weeks. Who can say for sure?

Of course, the Chelsea manager is not the first manager to resort to fantastic and/or flimsy excuses in the face of sub-par results. In fact, it’s become something of a tradition at the top of the game.

Knock against the elements

Even Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who is an affable and joking character most of the time, has been forced to come up with some really baffling excuses at moments of significant pressure.

After enduring an exasperating goalless draw in the Merseyside derby in which the Reds lost to Manchester City in the 2018/19 title race, Klopp vented his frustration by pounding on the elements.

“I know people don’t like it when I say it, but the wind was blowing from all directions, the ball was up in the air a lot,” he complained.

Klopp then again blamed the wind when Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves last year, complaining his players had “struggled to control the ball” due to the stormy conditions at Molineux. Apparently the wolves seemed to be surviving the night well.

Ferguson sees the gray mist descending

Never shy about deflecting criticism from his players, Sir Alex Ferguson fought many private battles with everyone and everyone during his long and distinguished tenure at Manchester United.

One of the quarrelsome Scot’s most notorious allegations came in 1996, when United endured a bumpy away form and blamed the club’s new gray substitute shirt.

United lost four of the five games they played while wearing the cursed shirt, with the most recent loss coming to Southampton at The Dell.

Fergie’s side were 3-1 down at half-time when he ordered the players to remove their gray jerseys as the drab, blotchy pattern meant they struggled to stand out against the crowd background.

The away side started the second half in their blue and white striped third kit but still found themselves at the wrong end of the game after a 3-1 defeat, having failed to restore balance.

Wenger is struggling to settle into his new home

Arsene Wenger, who was often the wily and elusive yin to Fergie’s fiery yang, in his heyday as Arsenal manager earned a reputation for offering equally flimsy excuses, including a penchant for brazenly and repeatedly claiming he had never seen an incident, which could possibly be called controversial .

The Gunners boss blamed the referee for his side’s 10-2 aggregate loss (TEN: TWICE!) to Bayern Munich in 2017 and also the Wigan Warriors rugby league team for leaving a week before his side’s disappointment the pitch at JJB Stadium had been roiled by Wigan Athletic 2-2 draw in 2010.

His opus magnum, however, came after a poor start to the 2006/07 season, when Wenger blamed disappointing draws against Aston Villa and Middlesbrough on Arsenal’s brand new Emirates Stadium – a lavish, expensive modern arena he had aspired to himself to be tirelessly built.

“Personally, I attribute our poor start to the season to the new stadium,” he said. “We lost some points that any team will lose if they move to a new stadium.

“It has to do with being unfamiliar [for our players]as well as the fact that when a team comes into the stadium, they don’t have bad memories.”

Mourinho blames Barca’s ball boys for it

Jose Mourinho has taken it upon himself to point the blame at almost every point during his managerial career, with his own players usually bearing the brunt along with match officials, the media, club directors, fans, physiotherapists, balls etc etc.

When it comes to ball boys, who have stumbled into his crosshairs several times, the always sour Portuguese has a checkered record.

Most notably during his tenure at Real Madrid, Mourinho fumed at Barcelona’s ball boys (or lack thereof) after watching his team lose in La Liga classic in the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa 2011.

Speaking after the game, he admitted he was saddened that Barca’s ball boys were missing after half-time. At that point, the Catalans were leading 2-1 and 4-3 on aggregate that night.

“Real Madrid showed a spectacular performance from the first minute to the last. We came here to play,” said Mourinho. “What I want to say now is not a criticism, I’m just stating a fact: there were no ball boys in the second half, which is typical for small teams when they’re struggling.”

Barcelona won 5-4 on aggregate to claim their 10th Supercopa title

Guardiola speaks balls

Much like Mourinho, his longtime manager nemesis, Pep Guardiola, has rattled through some true humdingers when it comes to post-game excuses.

Indeed, the Man City boss really had to dig deep after watching his side be prodded to penalties by Wolves after 120 minutes of goalless work in the 2017 Carabao Cup round of 16.

After Wolves became just the first opponents to prevent his side from scoring in regulation time this season, Guardiola said there must be something wrong with the ball.

“The ball was unacceptable for a high-level competition,” he lamented. “It’s too light. It moves everywhere. It’s not a good ball. It’s impossible to score with a ball like that and I can say that because we won.”

“I’m not apologizing. All my players were like, ‘What is this?’ I’m sorry Carabao Cup, it’s not a serious ball for a serious competition.

The ball in question was a Miter Delta, used in English football league competitions since the 1960s.

Pardew the party muffle

Perhaps the best, flimsiest and downright nonsensical excuse ever offered by a professional football manager came at the start of the 2012/13 season, after Newcastle United had just lost 2-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Toon had played Greek side Atromitos in a Europa League qualifying playoff on Thursday and asked for their game against the Blues to be moved from Saturday to Sunday to give them an extra day to prepare.

However, as it was only the second game of the Premier League season, the authorities rejected the request and Newcastle were forced to continue, losing in the first half to goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres.

Alan Pardew was Newcastle boss at the time and the best he could do to relieve himself and his team of guilt was to take the blame for planning a popular Caribbean street festival, which has been held around the same August date since 1966 takes place in London.

“Today was a bit unfair to us,” Pardew murmured afterwards. “We couldn’t move the game to Sunday because of Notting Hill Carnival.”

Ah yes, the old chestnut.

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