Thomas Tuchel laughed off Ralf Rangnick’s claim he was offered the Chelsea job in February, saying: “Hopefully he got the date wrong.”
Rangnick was this week appointed as Manchester United’s interim manager until the end of the season.
The German confirmed in his first United news conference on Friday that he had turned down an opportunity to replace Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge on a four-month deal.
Tuchel was not surprised to hear his compatriot may have been approached by the Blues hierarchy, but hopes it came earlier than stated given the former Paris Saint-Germain boss took charge of the London club late in January.
When asked about Rangnick’s comments, Tuchel served up a quip as he said: “So maybe after our draw against Wolverhampton [Tuchel’s first game in charge], maybe the bosses saw the draw and thought he doesn’t know what he’s doing so let’s bring Ralf in for four months and let him take over.
“He must have the date wrong, hopefully. Otherwise, it’s a nice job to have in world football to be the coach of Chelsea.
“You need to be realistic that if you’re getting the phone call, you’re not the only one getting the phone call. Now I’m here and I’m happy.”
Tuchel revealed Trevoh Chalobah has joined the list of Chelsea absentees ahead of Saturday’s derby at West Ham due to a hamstring injury.
The defender sustained the injury in a 2-1 midweek win at Watford and will undergo a scan.
Ben Chilwell (knee), Mateo Kovacic (hamstring) and N’Golo Kante (knee) also miss out, but Reece James and Jorginho have been passed fit.
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Tuchel refused to be drawn on whether fit-again striker Romelu Lukaku will start in the battle between the Premier League leaders and the fourth-placed Hammers at the London Stadium.
He said: “I will not tell you because this is part of the line-up that I want to know very late and don’t want the opponents to know. He is in training and wants to start, he is eager to start. But how difficult is it for Romelu to hit top level after an injury?
“I honestly don’t know exactly, but we should try to reach our top level and in every match that is different. Watford caused us lots of problems, so we had to focus on not giving up many big chances. It was a mental game to not get too frustrated and wait for the chances and escape with a win.
“Tomorrow there will be new questions. We believe in what we do and are full of confidence.”