Why the crazy sacking of Thomas Tuchel will do lasting damage to Chelsea
German is a top-quality coach who would have found solutions to current lack of form
To sack any manager seven games into a season is ridiculous. To sack a manager of Thomas Tuchel’s class is crazy.
No matter what the explanation from new owner Todd Boehly, how can it make sense to act six weeks into a new campaign when the transfer window has just closed and a squad has been assembled to fit the manager’s vision?
What must Wesley Fofana be thinking today? More relevantly, what is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thinking? His relationship with his former Borussia Dortmund coach Tuchel was the key to his signing last week.
Did Boehly sanction that deal while privately considering a change of coach might be necessary in days? Boehly’s track record at the LA Dodgers baseball team suggests he does stand by his coaches, but if this change was part of a desire to impose a ‘long-term plan’, why not make it during the summer before millions were spent in the transfer window on players you cannot be sure the next manager rates?
The spending spree looks like it was a way of appeasing anxious fans that it would be business as usual under a new regime rather than based on calculated, long-term squad building.
Alternatively, if doubts in Tuchel have surfaced quickly this season, why not wait until the international break rather than unleash carnage following a poor Champions League result? At least give him a few more games to prove he can lead the side in the right direction, or give yourself that two-week window to hire a replacement.
The shadow of Roman Abramovich’s hire-and-fire policy still looms over the club after this brutal decision. Just when it seemed there would be a new era of calm at Stamford Bridge, in his first major act, Boehly has replicated his predecessor’s habit of getting rid of world-class managers at any hint of trouble. If Abramovich was still in charge at Chelsea, the Tuchel dismissal would be no surprise. Such was his track record – sacking coaches of the calibre of Jose Mourinho (twice), Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte – no Chelsea manager was safe when in the midst of a poor run of results.
On one level, it is difficult to have too much sympathy for Tuchel. He knew what he was walking into by accepting the job in the wake of Frank Lampard being shown the door.
The shocking aspect is that a new administration has gone this way. That would worry me if I was a Chelsea fan.
Under Abramovich, Chelsea were unique in that no matter how unstable the managerial position was, they still won.
It became difficult to criticise the sacking policy as a new manager arrived and won the double in his first season (Ancelotti) or the Champions League within six months (Roberto Di Matteo and Tuchel).
This feels different because Boehly has dismissed the coach before putting a recognised structure in place.
From the outside, it feels like Tuchel was the director of football as much as the coach over the summer, trying to lure the right players to the club.
Much-needed reinforcements arrived and the team is going through a transitional period compared to a year ago. Chelsea are not the only side in that position at the start of this season. Tuchel is also the kind of high-calibre coach equipped to find the solutions.
Let’s not forget Chelsea are still the world champions, and along with winning the Champions League, Tuchel has reached the final of every domestic competition he has started in since arriving in England.
Last March, I wrote a column arguing that Manchester United should try to take advantage of the ownership uncertainty at Chelsea and poach Tuchel.
A few days later, I was working for Sky Sports at Stamford Bridge and had to walk through a packed stand to get to my commentary position. The reaction to my comments was severe, with Chelsea fans going berserk at the suggestion that Tuchel should quit for Old Trafford.
What must they think now that Tuchel has been shown the door? I cannot believe those same supporters who went mad at me believe this is a logical decision.
It looks like Brighton’s Graham Potter is the No 1 target. That surprises me. If I was in charge of a top English club and had a vacancy, I would be straight on to Mauricio Pochettino – a coach with a history of building a club, performing in the Champions League and leading world stars.
What is for certain is that with Tuchel gone, fans of Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham will feel their top-four chances have been significantly enhanced.
Tuchel will not be out of work long. It says everything about the outgoing Chelsea manager’s ability that should any of Europe’s top clubs have a vacancy in the future, his name will be high on the list of candidates. (© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2022)
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