Is Tuchel a perfect fit for Chelsea or is it destined to end in tears?

Thomas Tuchel fell out with Dortmund and fought an unwinnable war at PSG, now the German ‘diva in the dugout’ is bound for fickle Chelsea. This will likely all end in tears… but it COULD be the perfect fit

  • Chelsea have sacked Frank Lampard and want Thomas Tuchel to replace him
  • Tuchel is an expert tactician but has a reputation for being a divisive figure
  • The German was sacked by Dortmund after falling out with his superiors
  • Tuchel working under trigger-happy Roman Abramovich feels an ominous fit
  • But Tuchel and Chelsea also has the potential to be a match made in heaven

In a world full of uncertainty, there are still some things you can rely on. If there is an argument for Chelsea to sack their manager, Chelsea will sack their manager. And if you employ Thomas Tuchel, you will probably end up falling out with him.

Chelsea lived up to their trigger-happy reputation by dismissing Frank Lampard on Monday, and now Tuchel is in line to replace him. In many ways, it is a match made in heaven: a brilliant diva in the dugout of one of Europe’s most successfully fickle clubs.

Tuchel has been coaching in Europe’s big leagues for over a decade now, and has rightly earned a reputation as an expert tactician who improves the players he works with. What he doesn’t do is forge lifelong friendships with his superiors. 

Experienced and expert tactician Thomas Tuchel is in line to replace Frank Lampard at Chelsea

Tuchel will now have to impress strict and ruthless club owner Roman Abramovich at Chelsea

Tuchel was sacked by Borussia Dortmund after falling out over transfer plans back in 2017

‘Thomas is a difficult person, but a fantastic coach,’ said Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke in a podcast on German public radio last November. Watzke is one of several club bosses who have fallen out with Tuchel in recent years. The relationship between club and coach, he said, ‘just didn’t fit’.

Yet in many ways, it did fit. In the years since his departure, Dortmund have arguably failed to fulfil the promise that they showed under Tuchel. It was under Tuchel that they won their last major trophy, the German Cup in 2017. Under Tuchel, they were also more serious challengers to Bayern’s hegemony than the final tables might suggest.

But Watzke still felt that Tuchel had to go. In an open letter to the fans after Tuchel’s dismissal in 2017, he said it was a question of ‘reliability and loyalty’.

It was a similar story at Tuchel’s next club, Paris Saint-Germain. Under the German coach, PSG finally seemed to be living up to their on-paper potential, and came closer than ever to their ultimate aim of winning the Champions League. Yet still the relationship soured.

One of the big headline grabbers in Tuchel’s demise at PSG was a since-deleted interview he gave to German broadcaster Sport1, in which he reportedly joked that managing the club was more like being a sports minister than a football coach. 

Dortmund chief Hans-Joachim Watzke said Tuchel can be a difficult person to work with

At PSG, Tuchel was in a constant power struggle with sporting director Leonardo (right)

Tuchel has fallen out with some of his biggest stars too – including Kylian Mbappe last season

More significant, perhaps, was his power struggle with sporting director Leonardo, a fight he was never realistically going to win. And the Champions League Final notwithstanding, there was always a slight feeling that Tuchel didn’t fit. That despite his tactical brilliance, he was unable to make PSG more than the sum of its glittering parts.

THOMAS TUCHEL’S MANAGERIAL CAREER

Games: 447

Wins: 256

Defeats: 112

Draws: 79

Major trophies: 7

TEAMS MANAGED 

2007-08 Augsburg II 

2009-14 Mainz 

2015-17 Borussia Dortmund

2018-20 Paris Saint Germain 

That may be different at Chelsea, who ditched the Galactico approach a while ago. For the current crop of talented but inconsistent youths, Tuchel may be just the man.

Blues fans will hope that he can get the best out of fellow Germans Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, who have underperformed since their much-feted arrivals last summer. It is not a forlorn hope. Both Havertz and Werner are products of a German system in which even creative players are used to detailed and intensive tactical instruction. Tuchel will deliver that. It is not for nothing that he was once seen pushing salt and pepper shakers around the table with Pep Guardiola in a Munich restaurant. Like Guardiola, he is a coach with a world view and a full arsenal of touchline dance moves.

Others may profit from his proven track record with young players. No manager has gotten more out of Ousmane Dembele than Tuchel, whose coaching career started with an explosion of youthful verve at Mainz a decade ago.

Back then, Tuchel took the Bundesliga by storm with his overachieving ‘Bruchweg Boys’, a young Mainz side which included Andre Schurrle and Lewis Holtby.

His departure from Mainz was also acrimonious, yet he remains arguably the most successful coach in the club’s history, and one whose influence is still felt today.

That was evident last weekend, when his former club beat RB Leipzig 3-2 to give themselves hope in the relegation fight and practically kill off the Bundesliga title race.

He has always worked wonders with young players and got the best out of Ousmane Dembele

Tuchel will give Timo Werner and Kai Havertz decisive instructions which they can benefit from

It was Tuchel’s former player Bo Svensson who masterminded the upset. Only recently appointed as Mainz’s new coach, the Dane has been open about how his former coaches have influenced him.

‘Both Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel helped inspire me to become a coach. I learned a lot from them in many regards,’ said Svensson at his unveiling earlier this month. He now intends to make dreary Mainz the spirited and popular underdogs they once were under Tuchel and Klopp.

Tuchel and Klopp themselves, meanwhile, may soon be doing battle once again in the Premier League.

In Liverpool, Klopp has found the perfect place to build a legacy and become an icon. For Tuchel, a less romantic and certainly less jovial character, Chelsea could be an equally good fit.

If history is anything to go by, it will end in tears eventually. But doesn’t it always at Stamford Bridge? And in the meantime, there should be plenty to cheer about for Chelsea fans.






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