The Tuchel Timeline

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Thomas Tuchel has been sacked by Chelsea FC, ending arguably the most eventful 589 days a manager could ever experience in a Job.

Here is a timeline of those events, explaining how they led to his demise.

Tuchel in, Lampard out – 26th January 2021

The German manager’s reception at Stamford was not particularly warm, unsurprisingly, as Roman Abramovich had just let go of club legend Frank Lampard. However, outside the Chelsea fanbase, no one batted an eyelid when the board appointed the former Paris Saint-Germain manager.

Despite Lampard’s popularity, the Chelsea board upheld prior precedent by sacking him after losing 5 of 8 in the league, including crucial games against Manchester City and Leicester City.

The new man came in with a muddled reputation.

There was no doubt about the German’s resume. Tuchel had been successful wherever he went. He took Paris Saint-Germain to their first and only Champions League Final alongside a domestic quadruple. At Borrusia Dortmund, he won the DFB-Polka alongside the club’s second highest league points total.

However, his downfall at both clubs was his workplace character which caused a breakdown in relations between him and both boardrooms, with Hans-Joachim Watzke, Dortmund CEO, even labelling him “Difficult” in the media. Such a reputation could have convinced the fan base that the ex-Mainz manager may not jell very well with the players.

For the players at Stamford Bridge, there was no time to worry about reputations. Sitting eleventh in the table, Chelsea needed results, and fast, if they were going to climb back up the Premier League table and into the Champions League places.

Tuchel delivered. Arriving at Chelsea, the German masterminded a 14-game unbeaten run which included victories against Spurs, Liverpool and the home and away legs of the Champions League round of 16 against Athletico.

Under Lampard, Chelsea’s defence had leaked goals at an alarming rate, but under Tuchel, who played a back three, they conceded an average of 0.4 Xg per game in the Premier League over the unbeaten stretch. Safe to say, the new manager bounce was in full force.

The Champions League Run: 23rd February 2021 –  29th May 2021

Remarkably, as most football fans will know, it is not unprecedented for a Chelsea manager to win the Champions League when taking over in January. Roberto Di Matteo’s team beat Bayern Munich “in their own backyard” after beating Barcelona with a gutsy backs-to-the-wall performance that saw their captain John Terry sent off.

The unlikelihood of the run, and because it was the first Champions League to enter the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet, means that it will likely never be topped in the hearts and minds of the Chelsea faithful. You could argue, however, that Tuchel’s run to the top was more impressive.

The German outthought his opposing manager in every tie, which shows in the stats. Much like in their unbeaten run in the league, Chelsea were resolute at the back, making it very difficult for the opposition to create chances against them. In fact, they conceded on average 0.51 Xg per leg in the knockout stages whilst scoring an average of 1.53 Xg per tie.

There is no better example of Tuchel’s tactical genius than the 2nd leg at home to Real Madrid. Los Blancos had been in white-hot form. They were unbeaten in 19 games in all competitions, only conceding four goals in their last ten games, including a 3-1 aggregate win over Liverpool in the quarter-finals. The game at Stamford Bridge, however, was a different story.

Although Real Madrid dominated the ball, they struggled to create meaningful opportunities, only registering seven shots in the game, which accounted for an Xg of 0.3. This was by design, as Tuchel’s set-up planned to exploit Real’s eagerness to attack and hit them on the break.

The plan created numerous chances for Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, who, along with the season’s trend, only managed to convert one of them into a goal. Finally, a late Mason Mount goal sealed the victory for the Blue Devils, capping a marvellous display by the players and the manager.

In the final, Chelsea dominated the ball and had all the significant chances against the Premier League champions, resulting in a tournament win that will go down in Stamford Bridge history.

The Champions League run perfectly encapsulates Thomas Tuchel’s value as a manager. He may be “difficult” and not always conduct himself in the best way in the press. However, he can outthink any manager in the world on his day, as he did to Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane on his way to the Champions League title.

The Takeover and Tuchel’s Exit

The buyout of Chelsea Football Club would always put Thomas Tuchel’s job security under duress. Led by Todd Boehly, part owner of the LA Dodgers, the ownership consortium has been trying to distance itself from the old ownership as quickly as possible.

Almost as soon as the takeover was announced, Boehly named himself interim sporting director, which meant the removal of Marina Granovskaia. Furthermore, long-time club chairman Bruce Buck stepped down alongside the removal of Petr Cech as Technical and Performance advisor.

All of these moves suggest to the public that the ownership consortium does not want Stamford Bridge associated with Roman Abramovich in any way. This could be for several reasons, including the public relations aspect of having an ex-owner who is an oligarch or simply the idea that Todd Boehly wants Chelsea FC to be run in his image.

In any case, this meant that as soon as the ink had dried on the paperwork, the writing was on the wall for Tuchel’s time as Chelsea manager.

The sacking seemed sudden to many, including myself. In fact, when I first saw the reports, I thought they were a poorly timed attempt at April fools. Yet, as time goes on, firing Tuchel makes more and more sense.

First off, results have not been going Chelsea’s way of late, and the German has been acting more and more as he did at the end of his PSG and Dortmund reigns with each passing day.

Boehly had overhauled the boardroom, and over the summer, he has attempted to overhaul the playing squad, spending £255.3 million on new players. It follows then that a new head coach should be brought in to manage this time of change at the club, despite the pain it may cause within the fanbase.

Chelsea fans will be sad to see him go, but whether he’s at Stamford bridge or not, he’ll always be Super Tommy Tuchel.

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