Chelsea’s Romance With Thomas Tuchel Comes To An End – A Lookback On His Tenure

Chelsea’s Romance With Thomas Tuchel Comes To An End – A Lookback On His Tenure

“We will build a team that nobody wants to play against.” Those were Thomas Tuchel’s famous words in his first press conference before taking the helm at Chelsea. Five months after that, he won Chelsea their second Champions League title in that famous night in Porto against Guardiola’s Man City, who were the favourites.

It seemed like the perfect marriage between a manager who didn’t demand time to produce results, and a club where nothing less is accepted other than winning. But after a turbulent time since the start of 2022, the pair have parted ways in a move that has taken the footballing world by shock.

Tuesday night’s 1-0 Champions League loss to tournament minnows Dinamo Zagreb was the last straw for the new owners, Todd Boehly and his consortium, as they decided to pull the trigger on the now ‘former’ Chelsea boss. But the problems between Tuchel and Boehly ran much deeper than just that one game.

Falling out with the hierarchy isn’t new territory for Tuchel. He’s had a previous history of such problems with boards and owners in his stints as manager of Dortmund and PSG. Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke described him as “a difficult person, but a fantastic coach”, while Tuchel called his role at PSG as that of a “politician in sport”, rather than that of a head coach.

Having managed Mainz for 5 years, Tuchel then became Dortmund manager as he took over from the formerly successful Jurgen Klopp in 2015. Despite a good first season in charge, the second year proved to be fractious, as he left the BVB at the end of the campaign.

A year later in 2018, he was appointed as the manager of French giants PSG. But a similar story brewed in his reign there as well, where he had a great first couple of seasons in Paris guiding PSG to their first UCL final, but things quickly went south between him and the club’s sporting director Leonardo in his third season, who said that Tuchel “must respect people above him”. Despite the heroics of the previous seasons, he was sacked by the club in December following a 4-0 win over Strasbourg.

Over in England, a similar pattern seems to have emerged with the German in his second full season in charge of Chelsea. Due to the quick and sudden takeover at Stamford Bridge, and a total revamping of the existing structure, Tuchel was made to work overtime in the summer transfer window. He was not just overseeing pre-season and training, but also working as a temporary director of football, and having to give his input on transfers.

He constantly bemoaned having to work in such an unfamiliar role and it was clear he wanted to go back to just being a coach. Former technical and performance advisor Petr Čech, who Tuchel had a great relationship with, acted as the intermediary between him and the hierarchy which smoothed things under the previous regime. But with Cech’s departure in the summer, there was a gap left that couldn’t be bridged. Communications broke down, and the relationship between the manager and the owners seemed to have soured.

On the footballing side, results weren’t too great in the last few months, and the football was at times very stale and lacking ideas and ruthlessness. Toothless in attack, and becoming increasingly leaky in defense, this wasn’t the same side that had conceded just 24 goals in Tuchel’s first 50 games in charge. In his last 50 games, Chelsea had conceded 53 goals, with no semblance of the side that won the Champions League.

After 100 days of the new ownership’s regime, and ironically after Tuchel’s 100th game in charge, they decided to sack the German boss. Boehly went ahead and spent upwards of £250 million in the summer transfer market, and the pressure was mounting on Tuchel. The ownership change, a lack of consistent results, and poor performances on the pitch meant something had to give, and much to the dismay of the Chelsea fans, it was Tuchel that had to pay the price.

During his tenure at Chelsea, Tuchel endeared himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful. Switching to 3 at the back on his very first game in charge of the club, he was not afraid to make quick decisions. He overturned the club’s form as he took Chelsea from 9th to 4th in the league, and won the Champions League by the end of the season. He brought back players like Rudiger and Jorginho who were left in the cold by Tuchel’s predecessor, Frank Lampard, and made the team work and perform to their best capabilities.

In his second season, Chelsea made their most expensive signing, bringing Romelu Lukaku back to the club. However, the signing was a disaster, as Tuchel and the Belgian fell out mid-season after the striker’s controversial interview which saw him flirt with Inter Milan and criticize the Chelsea boss. He had to deal with a whole array of problems after that as well, ranging from COVID absentees, injuries, and the lack of goals from his expensive forwards.

But despite all the troubles, he won Chelsea the Super Cup, and the elusive Club World Cup. The club reached a total of 5 finals in 1 and a half seasons under his reign. Even off the field and in his press conferences, he was seen as a witty, humourous, eloquent, and man who loved attention to detail.

He was lauded by fans and pundits alike for his handling of Chelsea’s situation last season with the sanctions and the subsequent takeover. When the club was sanctioned in March this year due to Abramovich having links to the calamitous events happening in Ukraine, it was expected that the club would wilt and suffer from the government sanctions. Tuchel was expected to leave amidst all the furore because of the transfer ban and all the revenue streams being cut off which would have left the club in disarray.

He also had to deal with the club’s inability to extend Rudiger and Christensen’s contracts, as he was left a huge hole in defense that needed sorting in the following transfer window.

Before Chelsea’s Champions League trip last season to Lille where he was asked how the sanctions could impact his team travelling to France, Tuchel came up with a quote for the ages – “My last information is we have a plane and we can go by plane and come back by plane. If not we go by train, if not we go by bus, if not I will drive a seven-seater!”.

He ensured his commitment to the club in those trying times of uncertainty during which he handled the club’s precarious situation astutely. For a manager who seemed to have built a wall of support and plenty of credit in the bank, things took a turn very soon.

However, his bust-up with Antonio Conte on the sidelines during the London derby against Spurs that finished 2-2 this season, and him running down the length of the touchline after Chelsea went 2-1 up are memories the Stamford Bridge faithful will keep close to their hearts.

He had the passion and commitment which resonated with the Chelsea fans but unfortunately, he couldn’t produce results on the pitch under the microscope of the new owners this season.

As they say, football moves fast. And with Tuchel’s sacking, Chelsea will be on their hunt to appoint a new manager. But Tuchel’s short but intense love story with Chelsea will leave a lasting legacy at the Bridge, and Chelsea fans will always remember him as the man that brought them their second Champions League title.

Also read: ‘Earthquake Style’: Spalletti’s Napoli Serve Liverpool Reality Check On A Memorable Night In Naples

Related post

Analyzing Thomas Tuchel’s Record vs Former Chelsea Bosses Conte, Sarri & Lampard

Analyzing Thomas Tuchel’s Record vs Former Chelsea Bosses Conte,…

We breakdown and crunch the numbers as we analyze and compare the performances of the recently-sacked former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel,…