After a poor start to the season, the question is whether Thomas Tuchel is spending too much time doing what he is not good at and not enough on what he is good at.
Chelsea went down to their second defeat of the season with another limp display at St Mary’s last night. What is more alarming is that they have arguably played well only once in five games, the emotionally-charged 2-2 draw against Tottenham.
It follows a poor end to last season, when a team that had been title challengers was dragged into a battle to make the top-four. The Blues have just six wins from their past 15 Premier League matches.
Most expected this summer’s takeover of the club to breathe new life into the Blues. Tuchel has been more involved in transfers than any Chelsea manager since Jose Mourinho, giving his football expertise to the Todd Boehly-Clearlake consortium.
There is a WhatsApp group where transfers are discussed and Tuchel is consulted multiple times a day. The manager has spoken of needing a “cold shower” after big names are discussed to help him navigate the emotions of completing big deals. He also complained multiple times during pre-season about the stress of having to effectively work as a sporting director alongside his coaching job, the latter being what he really loves.
Now, with performances continually slipping and the manager seemingly powerless to do anything about it, you have to question whether he can shut out the noise of the transfer market.
At times in recent weeks, Tuchel has seemed stressed. His outburst at Antonio Conte seemed uncharacteristic of a man who was rightly praised for the handling of the sanctions placed on Roman Abramovich and the club last season. There have also been attacks on referees and confusing excuses for poor form.
After Wesley Fofana joined from Leicester for £70million, plus add-ons, no team has spent more than Chelsea in world football this summer.
It represents the club’s biggest outlay in a single transfer window, at more than £250m. One more big deal could push the spending into world-record territory, increasing scrutiny.
Tuchel is involved in the decision-making, from replacing Romelu Lukaku for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at a significant cost to paying £22m more than Manchester City wanted to for Marc Cucurella.
Usually, managers are protected by a strong sporting director or chief executive, but Tuchel has had to do it himself. It looks like the lack of support has come at a cost for Chelsea, with their manager possibly distracted.
Chelsea now rely on further new signings to help turn things around, as Tuchel counts down the hours until the transfer window closes, all the while fully immersing himself in the madness of it all.