Thomas Tuchel must fix Chelsea downturn as Champions League trophy won’t save his job, warns Florent Malouda

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 (AP)
(AP)

Thomas Tuchel has been warned his Champions League triumph will not save him if he cannot turn Chelsea’s season around.

The German is suffering his first crisis since taking over at Stamford Bridge almost a year ago — and on Sunday faces a crucial game against Tottenham in the battle to secure a top-four finish.

That, in itself, underlines how Chelsea’s campaign has unravelled, with Tuchel expected to mount a serious challenge for the title before a mid-season slump that has now seen them win just one of their last seven in the Premier League.

Former Chelsea star Florent Malouda is convinced Tuchel can still rescue the season, but has warned him that no manager is ever safe under the demanding Roman Abramovich. The Champions League-winning winger saw some of the biggest names cast aside during his six years at the club, including Jose Mourinho, Phil Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti.

“When you are Chelsea manager, you are never in a comfort zone,” he told Standard Sport. “Everybody expects a lot — the owner and the board as well. There is a standard and you accept it. When you take the job, you accept it.”

Tuchel conquered Europe within four months of replacing Frank Lampard as boss last January, but Malouda watched as Chelsea’s first-ever Champions League-winning manager, Roberto Di Matteo, was sacked in 2012 just six months after delivering the trophy Abramovich craved most. That is why he insists even that unforgettable night in Porto last May does not make Tuchel safe.

“That is never the case,” he said. “When you win the Champions League, of course you have a status, but you cannot go below that. People think that’s what you are going to deliver every season.”

Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Brighton was the latest setback for Chelsea, who are now 12 points adrift of Manchester City, having also played one game more than the runaway League leaders. It represents a spectacular collapse after briefly leading the table by six points in November.

Defeat to Tottenham on Sunday would pile the pressure on Tuchel, with Antonio Conte’s side able to close the gap to their fierce rivals to five points, with four games in hand. Tuchel insisted this week that he believes he will be given time to build on his early success — but Malouda has experienced how ruthless Chelsea can be if expectations are not met.

“No one is safe and it can happen overnight,” he added.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The former France international can still remember when his innocence was lost in terms of Chelsea’s ruthless methods, with Mourinho’s exit in 2007 after delivering two titles in three years.

Malouda, who had only signed from Lyon two months earlier, said: “I knew there were difficulties at the club, but I never expected it to be so fast and this way, especially with a manager of this calibre. I think we were at the theatre — there was a movie about the success of the Jose era — with the players. It was the next day or the day after and we heard about it on the news.

“For me, I wasn’t prepared [for that]. Also the most surprising thing was that life goes on, ‘we have a game in two days, so let’s not speak about the past’.

“He just won two Premier Leagues, and then when he came back he was successful as well. So it is not a problem of the person, there is a project and if you are not in the frame then you are out.”

Despite Chelsea’s slump, Malouda does not believe Tuchel has reached crisis point yet — and is backing him to come up with a solution between now and the end of the season.

It is not about results because we won trophies. It is about the general atmosphere and stability.

“You cannot say they are having a bad run of performances, but in terms of results it is clearly not enough,” he said. “But I think Tuchel knows what he is doing — he is the right man for the situation. From what I feel from outside, the players trust him. I don’t see any sign that he is in doubt.

“Of course, he is in the front line because he is the manager, but I think he has got the make-up [of the system of his team] he believes in.”

After so many years of managerial change, Malouda wants to see some longevity at Chelsea at long last.

“I think everyone wishes that it would happen, but it doesn’t happen,” he said. “And they still win. Maybe that is a type of management, to constantly renew. I wish, let’s say for five years, we kept the same manager. It is not about results because we won trophies. It is about the general atmosphere and stability.”

Just stabilising a season that is in danger of slipping out of control is Tuchel’s immediate priority.

Florent Malouda was speaking to the Evening Standard in conjunction with William Hill

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