Thomas Tuchel faced his first serious test as Chelsea manager when his side fell behind at Southampton, before a Mason Mount penalty secured a 1-1 draw.
It wasn't a classic, and Tuchel was critical of his team's attacking play, having dominated most of the game while lacking a cutting edge in the final third. One of the victims of Tuchel's frustration was Callum Hudson-Odoi, who started the game on the bench but was brought on to replace Tammy Abraham at half-time.
The Chelsea winger didn't have the best of afternoons though, as he himself was then substituted after being on the pitch for only 30 minutes. There was some speculation that the player may have been struggling with an injury, but Thomas Tuchel left no doubt during his post-match comments on BT Sport that the decision to substitute Hudson-Odoi was tactical.
With Hudson I was not happy with the energy and with the attitude in counter-pressing, so we decided to take him off again, because we demand a lot. We demand 100% and I had the feeling that he is not right in this shape where he can help us. So the decision for today is a hard decision I know, for the player to come on and off. But tomorrow it is forgotten and he has all possibilities to start again against Atletico.
Tuchel cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines throughout the game and the decision to hook a young player like Hudson-Odoi, who has impressed in recent games under the German playing in an attacking wing-back role, shows that the new Chelsea boss is not afraid to make tough decisions - even at this early stage in his Chelsea career. Hudson-Odoi was lauded for his impressive performance against Burnley just a few weeks ago, giving Robbie Brady an absolute nightmare of a day. But he was visibly and understandably disappointed with his manager's call as he returned to the Chelsea bench with 15 minutes remaining.
Hudson-Odoi will be raging!! #SOUCHE
— Kevin Kilbane (@kdkilbane77) February 20, 2021
In the BT Sport studio after the game, former Chelsea player Joe Cole described the decision as Tuchel's first 'spiky' moment as Chelsea manager - one that Cole himself didn't agree with.
It's a very strong way to go and his first spiky moment. We knew from his reputation he is strong he will make decisions and that's bold.
For him to say 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 with the amount of changes they've had.
I just question whether it was unnecessary at the time to upset a player that maybe is going to play for you Tuesday night. Tuchel's took that decision and it might be a message to his team but it's brave as Callum is not going to be happy with that.
Given the depth in quality that this Chelsea squad has, a call like this will surely send a message to the players that competition for places is tough and that Tuchel will not accept sub-par performances as they compete for a top four position towards the business end of the season.
"I was not happy with the energy, and the attitude on counter-pressing."
"We decided to take him off again because we demand a lot."
Thomas Tuchel explains his reasoning for taking off Callum Hudson-Odoi having brought him on at half-time...
🎙 @lynseyhipgrave1 pic.twitter.com/gOMJo49F7a
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 20, 2021