'More than I actually wanted': Tuchel says he used Chelsea star for longer than intended vs Manchester United

Thomas Tuchel admitted that Romelu Lukaku had more minutes on the pitch for Chelsea against Manchester United than originally planned.

Speaking after his side’s 1-1 Premier League draw with United yesterday (as quoted by BBC Sport), Tuchel explained that Lukaku’s cameo was actually longer than first imagined.

The Belgian played the final eight minutes of Sunday’s intriguing clash at Stamford Bridge, in his first competitive appearance since injuring his ankle last month.

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

He could not provide the extra spark to get Chelsea over the line, having watched Tuchel’s men struggle to convert past their stubborn opponents.

United took the lead through Jadon Sancho, after a major miss control from Jorginho.

Luckily for the typically ice-cool midfielder, it wasn’t long before he could redeem himself from the penalty spot.

Romelu’s return

With the scores level and Chelsea chasing the victory, Tuchel sent on his number nine to try and swing the tie.

It was a decision that perhaps could have done with coming ten minutes sooner, just to allow Lukaku more room to feel his way into the occasion.

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

However, Tuchel suggested that the centre-forward in fact played longer than anticipated.

“If he is fully fit he is a starter for us but he is not at the moment,” said the Blues boss.  

“It was more than I actually wanted but we were so close to the opponent’s goal I thought maybe he could help with his presence.”

Lukaku back in action

Lukaku surely won’t have to wait long for his next start.

Chelsea travel to Watford on Wednesday, before they make another short trip across the capital to West Ham United this weekend.

If the Watford tie is too soon for the striker, then at least smashing the Hammers will be right around the corner.

A goal against either club would be timely as well for the 28-year-old, considering he hasn’t converted for the Blues since September.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.