Transition to Tuchel
On the 26th of January 2021 Chelsea Football Club appointed Thomas Tuchel, the former PSG manager to replace Frank Lampard as head coach on an 18-month contract with an extension option. The experienced manager who had a successful spell at PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Mainz became Chelsea’s first German head coach. Chelsea fans were obviously devastated with the departure of club legend Frank Lampard and the end of a fairy tale story between the club and legend, however the decision by the board to sack Frank Lampard was the correction decision for the club.
I believed that Frank Lampard was too inexperienced and out of his depth to manage a big club like Chelsea FC. His successor Thomas Tuchel has bags of experience and has had success wherever he has coached, in August 2020 he led PSG to their first ever Champions League final but unfortunately could not deliver the holy grail. In the late December 2020 Thomas Tuchel was sacked by the Ligue 1 club, he left the Parisians as the manager with the highest win rate ratio in Ligue 1 history with two successive league titles and 4 other domestic trophies.
Can he prove himself
Rumour had it that Chelsea’s first target was RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann but his parent club refused to let their manager leave in the middle of the season, this led Chelsea to get in touch with Thomas Tuchel representations. Chelsea offering Tuchel an 18-month contract makes sense for both parties, especially the club who have had to splash over £200 million in compensation in sacking managers. Tuchel will have to earn an extension and prove himself in the best football league in the world with other great managers like Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho.
Tuchel will want to build his own project but as I said before football is a business in which everything depends on results, so how much time will he be given! One of the reasons for his sacking at PSG was that his relationship with PSG sporting director Leonardo was strained, Tuchel has a public fallout over player recruitment with Leonardo. I`m sure Chelsea would have let objectives and expectations known to their new head coach beforehand.
New Era Begins
24 hours after being announced as Chelsea head coach, Tuchel would have to take charge of his first game against Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge. The first training session took place for preparation and many would asked what set up and line up he would have. Tuchel called upon senior players such as Azpillicueta, Jorginho and Rudiger over Mason Mount and Reece James. He set up with 3-4-3 and surprisingly played Callum Hudson Odoi right wing back, the game ended 0-0 but it was a point and a positive start. Chelsea played better with flowing passes but no end product on goal! Callum Hudson Odoi was man of the match, he fitted perfectly in the system. Reminder that Chelsea lost to Wolverhampton back in December so wasn`t a bad result.
Thomas Tuchel’s first win as Chelsea manager was a 2-0 win against Burnley at home, club captain Azpillicueta scored the first goal in the Tuchel era and a second goal from Marcos Alonso whose Chelsea career looked over after being dropped by Frank Lampard for his performance and behaviour after the 3-3 draw to West Brom. Next game was a 1-0 away win against London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs managed by Jose Mourinho the former blues manager. Chelsea all of a sudden look like a different team from weeks prior, players confidence and team spirit seem to have been lifted. Chelsea continued their momentum with wins against Sheffield United and Newcastle which has them back in the top four above current champions Liverpool. I think fans like myself are delighted that we’ve bounced back and are winning games after an awful spell. We must continue this consistency and fight for each other, I believe that we will make the top four. Trust the process!
Setup and Tactics
Thomas Tuchel is currently unbeaten as Chelsea manager, the way he has set up Chelsea so far, the players have immediately adapted. Tuchel has set up Chelsea with a 3-4-2-1 / 3-4-3. He has stuck with 3 in the back with veteran defender Thiago Silva leading whom he worked closely with at his time at PSG. A midfield pivot of Jorginho and Kovacic, both players have stepped up in the absence of N’golo Kante who was sidelined to injury. Kante will be play an important role for Tuchel’s line up and the manager has expressed his admiration and excitement to work with N’golo Kante – “I was desperate to have him in my teams in the past. He is a big Chelsea player and one of the best midfielders in the world. So I am so lucky to have him in my squad and that he is back fit again.”
The wingback position on the right side has Callum Hudson Odoi who has been immense winning two man of the match awards against Wolverhampton and Burnley. His speed, skill and desire to beat players 1v1 and defensive contribution has pleased his new head coach. However Ben Chilwell has struggled to adapt and play the left wing back role, this has seen Marcos Alonso back into the starting line up, who is more of a natural left wing back and on his day the best left wing back in the Premier League. Obviously this might be a concern for fans who want to see the best of Chilwell but Tuchel has said that all players are being given a fresh chance and that the formation isn`t permanent.
In our attack Tuchel has used Timo Werner, Giroud and Tammy Abraham, who have not been clinical or scoring many goals that Chelsea need. We`ve seen Mason Mount be used as a false 9 against Tottenham which worked and created more space and chances but Chelsea have to be more aggressive and decisive in front of goal. Tuchel has always encouraged his teams of the past to be expressive, confident on the ball and score plenty of goals. It will take time for the players to understand exactly how Tuchel wants to play and expects.
My concern is whether Tuchel can build a system that fits players like Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Reece James and Ben Chilwell. I understand that the players he has selected are winning matches and deserve to start on merit but the young talent of players that Chelsea have are potential world class starters and would be exciting to see them gel and become a strong force. I believe and trust in the process, it is still early days! A change in the middle of the season requires patience but with a great preseason Tuchel will build a team that nobody wants to play.
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