Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board have appointed former Paris St-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel as their new manager on an 18-month contract with an option to extend. Will he last that long? The German has just walked in but his personality and history tell me the exit door will always be peeking over the horizon.
The Good the Bad and the Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel’s football knowledge is unquestionable. He has the tactical acumen to be a success at Chelsea, but he's more high maintenance than all four characters in Sex in the City. Tuchel is one of the most complex personalities in European football management. The 47-year-old is labeled as a political power player and control freak, but the labels are not all bad; he is also as seen as a tactical visionary and methodical thinker.
Playing with fire
Tuchel has a history of tensions with the hierarchy at every club that he has been with, even to the point Mainz hinted that sooner or later Tuchel will reveal himself and become a thorn in their side. The latest example is his dismissal from Paris St-Germain in late December after months of fights between him and sporting director Leonardo. If Tuchel feels his Hulk-smash attitude or his 6.2ft frame will help him if he crosses Abramovich, then there will be only one outcome, and that is Tuchel looking for another club.
Previously in charge at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund — following now-Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp into both German clubs, Tuchel steered newly promoted Mainz to ninth in the Bundesliga in 2009-10 and won the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17.
Tuchel now takes charge of Chelsea barely five months after guiding Paris St-Germain to its first Champions League final. He won two league titles, the French Cup and the French League Cup at PSG. Tuchel’s 75.6% win rate in Ligue 1 — over his two-and-a-half years in Paris — is the highest in the competition’s history.
Tuchel’s first task in his new job is to guide Chelsea to a top-four Premier League finish. With the club five points outside the Champions League qualification spots, any week that drops points makes this task more difficult.
Under Lampard’s tenure, some Chelsea’s players complained about a lack of tactical instruction and general communication. However, Tuchel is known to communicate extensively with his teams. This can prove to be a case of being careful what you wish for.
Tuchel’s to do list:
- Inspire Kai Havertz and Timo Werner (just talking to them in German isn't the solution)
- Sort the defense (may need to move club captain Cesar Azpilicutea on)
- Balance the midfield (Perhaps the solution is two screening midfielders)
- Repair squad harmony
My way or the highway
Tuchel arrives in London with a reputation for being tactically astute. The German will not hesitate to implement some of his ideas — be it on the tactics or off the field. At his previous clubs, he drew up diet plans, monitored the sleeping patterns of players, overhauled the analytics department, changed the scouting processes, and got involved in the renovation of facilities.
Tuchel has been applauded for his tactical awareness and flexibility as well as his implementation of innovative training methods. At Paris Saint-Germain, Tuchel primarily played a 4–3–3 with plenty of flair to emphasize the attacking capabilities of wide forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.
The team’s fullbacks would also push up alongside the midfield, to attain positional overloads. Simultaneously, this would disrupt attempts to man-mark key players, creating space behind the defensive line.
This tactical change will benefit Chelsea’s forward line and both wing-backs (Ben Chilwell and Reece James). Due to Tuchel’s attacking acumen, this should provide FPL returns once he gets everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.
I would not rush out to maximize Chelsea assets, but in time, once Tuchel has properly assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the squad, some should catch fire. Before then we can expect to see some tinkering, so wait and see what he has in store for his team selection and formations. If Warner does score against Wolves, I can see him going on to score many more in the coming weeks. Let’s call it the Tuchel effect.
Of course, too much tinkering can confuse players, and he won’t have the luxury of as much time to experiment as he had in Paris. The Blues sit ninth in the table, so they need to start winning games immediately, but like Abramovich, the Premier League is notoriously unforgiving, so he can become manager number twelve to fall prey to Abramovich’s trap door.
There will be casualties
The popular perception is that Tuchel’s arrival will be great news for expensive but underperforming Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. By extension, his appointment would therefore be detrimental to recent academy graduates like Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham. But don’t buy this notion that Tuchel can waltz in and chat mit Werner and Havertz auf Deutsche to transform performances overnight.
Tuchel’s appointment has all the markers of Chelsea’s earlier manager Rafa Benitez who was hired by Chelsea not only for his great CV but to get the fellow countryman and club-record signing Torres firing.
While it will undoubtedly benefit Werner and Havertz to have a coach looking after them familiar with the detailed tactical instruction normal in German clubs, Tuchel has a good track record for developing youngsters under his supervision. The development of Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will proceed apace.
5 players that may benefit from Tuchel’s appointment (from Football365):
- Timo Warner
- Christian Puslic
- Kai Havertz
- Antiono Rudiger
- Billy Gilmour
5 players that may become casualties from Tuchel’s appointment (from Football365):
- Tammy Abraham
- Kurt Zouma
- Callum Hudson-Odoi
- Mason Mount
- Cesar Azpilicueta
What are your thoughts on Thomas Tuchel? How long will he last? Who will you be getting in next week for your FPL team? Please share in the comments.
Will Thomas Tuchel’s managerial tenure at Chelsea last longer than Frank Lampard’s did?
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