homas Tuchel appeared consistently stressed during Chelsea‘s chaotic tour of America last summer.
Mauricio Pochettino, in contrast, has largely exuded calm during a busy fortnight in the States as he has got to work in pre-season building a new team in his identity, even if the circumstances have not been perfect.
By the time Chelsea touch down back in London on Friday, a huge 31-man squad will have racked up close to 10,000 air miles and played five matches across five states.
Pochettino refused to blame the dreadful Soldier Field pitch for the knee injury suffered by Christopher Nkunku here in Chicago last night, though it was an issue throughout the game after the stadium hosted an Ed Sheeran concert on Saturday.
The striker’s injury marred a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund, and the £52million summer signing is now a major doubt for the season-opener against Liverpool a week on Sunday.
But, aside from fitness concerns over his new arrival, Pochettino will reflect on a positive spell in the US after some encouraging signs in the first phase of his Chelsea rebuild.
Physically, Chelsea are already much fitter. The squad’s levels of fitness slipped last season but, following gruelling sessions led by assistant Jesus Perez, they look ready for the campaign. Games have been played at a high intensity for pre-season fixtures and there has been evidence of Pochettino’s trademark high-energy pressing system.
Tactically, it has been clear how Pochettino wants his team to play. Chelsea have consistently played out from the back, Pochettino has encouraged his full-backs to attack and there has been a fluidity to the forward line in a new 4-2-3-1 system.
Nkunku has looked ready to star for Chelsea, and his injury is a blow. He has scored three goals in five pre-season