On the 25th of January, Chelsea announced they had parted ways with club icon Frank Lampard as manager and a day later Thomas Tuchel was the new man in charge. The German is the 14th manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club 17 and a half years ago. Despite being sacked from PSG in December, the former Dortmund manager has the pedigree required to take the reins at Stamford Bridge.
Since taking over, the German is unbeaten in his nine games with six wins and three draws. Victories away to Atlético Madrid and London rivals Tottenham Hotspur has got the conversation started on how much Chelsea can achieve under their new boss. However, he should have never been doubted.
Last season Tuchel took PSG to their first Champions League final, but he is now tasked at getting Chelsea back into the Champions League spots and getting the best out of the big money signings. The latter seemed to have cost Frank his job along with his inability to beat the top opposition, both are things Tuchel did whilst in France.
First, the German will have to find his best starting 11. Lampard used 27 players this season, the most in the league, and this inconsistency in game time saw the performance in the players decrease. At the time of his sacking, Frank Lampard had only beaten one side in the top half of the Premier League as their early season form quickly went and they slumped to ninth.
Due to his pre match preparation, Tuchel changes his formation and systems depending on the opposition, this is ideal for the deep squad at his disposal. He has done this at every job he’s had and at Mainz he finished as high as fifth despite the clear talent deficit in the squad. They achieved this feat due to out witting their opponents with smart tactics and changing formations up to six times a match.
However, unlike most other pragmatic managers, Tuchel isn’t defensive, in 2015/16 his Dortmund side outscored Pep Guardiola’s all conquering Bayern and was the highest ever achieved by Borussia Dortmund.
His versatility has been seen throughout his managerial career. At Mainz, he made his team outwork their opponents to makeup for the less talented squad whilst at Dortmund, the side out played the opposition as he transformed Klopp’s counter pressing team into a more ball dominant one. In France he took an already dominant side and made them work harder off the ball which saw them become more dominant and break their Champions League knockout curse.
Previous Chelsea managers, including Lampard, have been stubborn in their approach and have complained they haven’t had the right players to fit their system. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the former Mainz manager as his tactical versality will often mask any squad issues.
He is not only a great tactician but also great at man management and keeping stars happy. Although Lampard won everything as a manager, there were always questions over his experience as a manager and when results weren’t falling their way, there were reports of discontent in the changing room. With his managerial experience, Tuchel will have more respect and trust from the players and his time at PSG helped teach him how to manage big egos around the club.
But this won’t mean bad news for the youth academy. He was won the under 19s Bundesliga with two different clubs, managed a young squad at Mainz and worked with the excellent youth at Dortmund emphasising he is one of the best at working with young players.
However, his intense approach doesn’t always sit well with eeveryone. At Mainz, a player referred to him as a ‘dictator’ and he fell out with Dortmund’s sporting director which led to him being sacked just days after winning the DFB Pokal.
He is undoubtedly one of the best managers around but his success at Chelsea hinges on how the players accept the changes and if the board are willing to work with him.