Thomas Tuchel: The Man to End Chelsea’s Misfortune?

“File:Thomas Tuchel.jpg” by Alexander Böhm is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Thomas Tuchel is set to be announced as the next Chelsea manager, following this morning’s announcement that Frank Lampard has been relieved of his duties after 18-months in charge.

The German coach most recently managed Paris Saint-Germain after his success with Borussia Dortmund, and has only been out of a job for a month since his sacking from the French club.

He is set to take over imminently and the short-term goal will undoubtedly be to guide The Blues up the table as they sit 9th in the English Premier League after 19 games.

Below, I’ll analyse what Tuchel will bring to Chelsea, and why it should be a success:

Attacking Football:

Chelsea have lacked clinicality at times this season. Timo Werner, the £48m signing who had scored 95 goals in 159 games with RB Leipzig, just can’t get firing. With only 4 goals in 19 games for the German striker in the English Premier League this season, Tuchel may be able to get the best out of him.

In his time with Borussia Dortmund, Tuchel opted with a possession-based system, with a heavy emphasis on rotation between players, where fluidity was key. Having taken over from Jurgen Klopp in 2015, Tuchel kept the 4-3-3 system that had brought the now Liverpool boss success with BVB, and implemented his own 4-2-3-1 variant.

With this Dortmund side, Tuchel’s wide men were typically Henrikh Mkhitaryan/Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic – who Tuchel had integrated into the team as a teenager – who is now a Chelsea player.

In Tuchel’s debut season with Dortmund, he finished 2nd in the Bundesliga and lost the DFB-Pokal Final to Bayern Munich, who also won the league. His re-invigorated Dortmund side had outscored the Bundesliga winners in the league campaign, but their leaky defence was what cost them goals.

With his experience at PSG in stabilising defensive frailties, the overwhelming firepower waiting for him at Chelsea could be the perfect mix for success for the German if he can strike the balance right. Kai Havertz is another signing from Germany (Bayer Leverkusen) which Tuchel will be looking to get the best out of to utilise his tactical preferences and Chelsea’s strengths, however, don’t be surprised to see Chelsea bolster their defensive ranks in the coming transfer windows too.

Tuchel went on to win the DFB-Pokal the following year, defeating Frankfurt 2-1 in a season that saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score 56 goals in 63 games. The following January, the Gabonese striker was sold to Chelsea’s city rivals, Arsenal.

That would be Tuchel’s only trophy to show for his time at Dortmund, however, he had some achievements which went under the radar somewhat: two seasons unbeaten at the Signal Iduna Park, youth integration into the first team, and a new identity, yet somewhat familiar brand of football which the Borussia Dortmund fans welcomed after Jurgen Klopp’s departure for Liverpool.

Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund Record:

68 Wins, 23 Draws, 17 Defeats.

Win Percentage – 62.96%

Trophies:

Tuchel’s move to Paris Saint-Germain not only brought the German a flurry of trophies, but brought him his first taste of a European final.

Tuchel was appointed the manager of PSG in May 2018 and had no hestitation in taking advantage of their wealth. His first signing, Kylian Mbappe for an initial fee of roughly £130m and an additional £30m in add-on fees.

Tuchel won his first trophy with the French giants on the 4th of August in his first game in charge of PSG, when they dismantled AS Monaco 4-0 to win the Trophée des Champions (French Super Cup).

This would be the first of Tuchel’s six honours in Paris. Despite winning the League and Super Cup double in his first season, Tuchel couldn’t quite get PSG going in the UEFA Champions League. After a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford in the first leg, they crashed out in the Round of 16 with a surprising 3-1 home defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United.

Tactically, Tuchel’s systems remained similar. Despite occasionally changing to a back three in systems where he used wing-backs with both Dortmund and PSG, the 4-3-3 was the originally inherited system after taking over from Unai Emery.

After some defensive issues with long balls often defeating the 4-3-3, Tuchel often opted for a system which operated as a 4-4-2 in defence, and a 4-2-4 in attack.

The wide midfielders, in this instance Neymar and Di Maria, would often drift inside when attacking. This either allowed Mbappe and Icardi to get wide, or to break the lines in behind the defence. This is where a lot of goal scoring scenarios were created for Tuchel’s PSG.

In defence, the wide men would simply join up with the middle and created two lines of four in defence and midfield. This allows for compact defensive play, along with the ability to counter-press and attack with pace, utlising options on either side of the midfield. This system was favourable for PSG in their Champions League adventures of 2019-20, where they lost 1-0 in the final to Bayern Munich in an otherwise tight game.

Had PSG won that game and clinched the Champions League for the first time in their history, Tuchel would have won the quintuple. In the 19-20 season, Tuchel oversaw a season of domestic dominance in Paris, winning the Ligue 1 Title, French Cup, French League Cup and the French Super Cup for a successive season.

Having openly criticised recruitment within the club, and often not getting the players he had targeted, relationships between the German and the club broke down. This led to his sacking in December 2020, Mauricio Pochettino his successor.

Thomas Tuchel’s Paris Saint-Germain Record:

95 Wins, 13 Draws, 19 Defeats.

Win Percentage – 75.6%

Connections with current Chelsea players:

The common parallel to be drawn between Tuchel and Chelsea is that he will get the best out of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, which is likely to be the case. However, there are more links to Tuchel than just the two Chelsea new-boys.

The aforementioned Christan Pulisic was a big part of Dortmund’s success under Tuchel, and you’d have to assume that he will feature heavily under the new regime at Chelsea. The American international was excellent last season, scoring 11 goals and bagging 10 assists in 34 games in all competitions. This season, he is yet to reach anywhere near this level of performance, but the arrival of his former boss could reignite the spark in Chelsea that is Christian Pulisic.

Thiago Silva was also one of Tuchel’s former players at PSG. However, recent claims in the media by the Brazilian centre-back that Tuchel’s PSG sacking was ‘predictable’, and contract talks with Silva souring towards the end of his tenure in Paris, could potentially leave an awkwardness between the two. As Chelsea’s most experienced defender, Silva has become somewhat of a stalwart for The Blues. This isn’t likely to change, but it’ll be interesting to see how the relationship unfolds between Tuchel and Silva as they reunite.

Although not former players under Tuchel, Antonio Rudiger and Jorginho were widely known as PSG targets when Tuchel was in charge. The German and Italian internationalists are likely to be in Tuchel’s plans going forward.

Final Verdict:

In my opinion, Thomas Tuchel is the right man for the job at the moment. He fits the category in which Chelsea are looking to play, he has former experience with current Chelsea players and has a proven track record of winning trophies, and very recently at that.

His desire to play attacking football from his managerial beginnings at Mainz 05, to his free-flowing, goal-scoring Borussia Dortmund, and his relentless Paris Saint-Germain. With the players that Chelsea have at their disposal, and with a bit of defensive tweaking, it should work for the German and for Chelsea.

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