Doubting Thomas | 

I fear the axing of Thomas Tuchel is a blunder for Chelsea

Chelsea owner Boehly dreamed of having Ronaldo but German coach saw the downside

Thomas Tuchel at the Dinamo Zagreb match which was his last in charge as Chelsea boss. Photo: Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images© Getty Images

Chelsea's US owner Todd Boehly moved quickly to get rid of Thomas Tuchel. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images© AFP via Getty Images

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 07: Head coach Thomas Tuchel of Borussia Dortmund together with Christiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF after the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League: First Qualifying Round 2nd Leg match between Real Madrid CF and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 07, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images)© Borussia Dortmund via Getty Imag

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel gives instructions to his players during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on August 30, 2022. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)© AFP via Getty Images

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Head Coach Graham Potter of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City at American Express Community Stadium on September 04, 2022 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)© Getty Images

ZAGREB, CROATIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Thomas Tuchel, Manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League group E match between Dinamo Zagreb and Chelsea FC at Stadion Maksimir on September 06, 2022 in Zagreb, Croatia. (Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images)© Getty Images

Paul McGrathSunday World

My many friends in English football tell me that poor results, a couple of outbursts in the media and Cristiano Ronaldo brought down Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.

Poor results will get any manager the sack, having a go at your players in the press is never a good idea, but what has the Portuguese superstar got to do with the German manager’s sudden sacking last Wednesday.

Simple, all the word is that Chelsea’s co-owner Todd Boehly dreamed of having Ronaldo at Chelsea for a season or two, as soon as the player made it clear last month that he would not mind leaving Manchester United.

Boehly could see the shirt sales, he could see the value of the million followers on Twitter and Instagram.

And he could see the most important currency in all of football, the many goals that Ronaldo would score in a blue shirt.

Thomas Tuchel could see other things, he could see what I wrote about here a few weeks ago, the baggage that now comes with a 37-year-old who is one of the greatest players there has ever been.

A truly great player, yes, but one who is not into tracking back to help his team-mates.

Tuchel told friends that Cristiano “would destroy my dressing room, and the morale within it.”

And so Chelsea were one of a number of clubs who told Ronaldo’s agent this summer that it would not welcome him.

Boehly was believed to be furious. Yet another American investor who only saw the Premier League’s dollar signs when Chelsea became available earlier this year.

It is clear the billionaire did not fully understand professional football, otherwise he would have known that an owner telling a manager to buy a player isn’t part of our game.

Is owner Todd Boehly looking for a yes-man in the hot seat?© AFP via Getty Images

It might happen in NFL, in US basketball, in Major League Baseball, it doesn’t happen in soccer in Britain.

I hope, for the future of the club I supported as a boy, that this decision does not backfire badly on Chelsea.

All those players who came to Chelsea in the summer on the basis that Tuchel was in charge – Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to name but four big transfers – must be wondering what on earth is going on.

They also must have wondered what was going on when they saw Chelsea linked with a move for Neymar in the summer when PSG were trying to offload the Brazilian.

Neymar is another player who would not be known for his team qualities, for a ‘We’re all in this together lads’ approach.

Moves for Ronaldo and Neymar seem very strange to me at a club where Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, to name but two ex-managers, would have put team before everything.

So now Graham Potter is handed the reins of the Chelsea chariot.

I didn’t warm to him at Brighton, at first, as he had taken the job of my good pal Chris Hughton who I felt was treated terribly by the club.

But good luck to the Englishman, I now admit he has done a fine job at Brighton, despite the financial realities meaning he had to sell his best player every summer.

He has probably multiplied his salary fivefold by going to Chelsea. Can you blame him for making the switch?

But is he just there so that he will listen to his bosses in the boardroom as much to his own football brain when players need to be bought and sold?

Agents

When you are Chelsea and you need a manager, it behoves a club that were European Champions last year and are World Club Champions to get nothing but the best.

And right now ‘nothing but the best,’ in terms of available managers, meant either Zinedine Zidane or Mauricio Pochettino.

Instead of going for either man who are free agents, Chelsea paid, it is believed, a total of £22 million to loosen Potter and his coaches from their Brighton contracts. It makes no sense to me.

I know Zidane seems to want to wait for the French national team job after the World Cup Finals, but Chelsea are not short of the money that would have turned his head.

While Pochettino must be wondering what is on earth going on.

Both Manchester United and Chelsea have now passed over a manager good enough to get Spurs to a Champions League final. That makes no sense to me either.

Chelsea are now at a crossroads, with a powerful squad of players, but with a manager who brought none of them to the club.

Potter has to get control of the situation there quickly, and try to keep his bosses out of playing matters. Players can quickly smell and sense when a manager is not really ‘the gaffer.’ It always ends in trouble.

Potter’s first task is to get Chelsea’s Champions League campaign up and running when they play Red Bull Salzburg at home on Wednesday.

In ordinary times, that would be a winnable tie for Chelsea.

But these are not ordinary times. Tuchel has joined Roberto Di Matteo in the ranks of Chelsea managers fired not long after leading the club to the Champions League crown.

This is also the club that fired the great Carlo Ancelloti a year after winning the Double.


Today's Headlines

More Soccer

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices