How Thomas Tuchel is turning Chelsea FC from dreamers into winners ahead of crucial week

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James Robson
·3-min read
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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

When he claims nothing has changed in terms of Chelsea’s mindset under Thomas Tuchel, Ben Chilwell is wrong.

That was no better demonstrated than by his manager’s pre-match address ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against FC Porto.

“I am here to win titles,” declared the German. “This is what I demand of myself, so why should we now say anything different?

“If you want to win in five years or three years, I don’t know what that is. Now is the time.”

And there is the crucial difference.

Chelsea under Frank Lampard began the season as a promise of a brighter future; a bold new era at Stamford Bridge, with a young group of players just bursting with potential. It seemed idyllic and Lampard himself got caught up in the romance of it all before reality bit.

Under Tuchel, it is all about the here and now.

The German was parachuted in to save Chelsea’s season in January under strict orders to deliver immediate results. And with just an 18-month deal to prove himself, there has been little time to talk about such fanciful notions as long-term planning or legacy building.

A trophy or two will let him rest more easily over the summer, take some of the pressure off his one and only full season under the terms of his current contract.

Tuchel is savvy enough to know that to end the campaign empty-handed and without Champions League qualification secured does not bear thinking about when working under the ruthless rule of Roman Abramovich, so he is not.

“We are in the second leg of the quarter-final of the Champions League, you will not find any team who does not have the goal to reach the semi-final,” he said. “We are in the semi-final of the FA Cup and have the chance to arrive in the final; if we arrive in the final then we have the chance to win.

“There is nothing to hide. This is a club that has culture, a structure to win titles and win games consecutively. Chelsea is the club that has the culture and the history and mentality to do so.”

Tuesday night is the start of a critical week for Tuchel and Chelsea. Safe passage to the Champions League semi-finals can be secured if they see out their 2-0 first-leg lead in Seville, which is hosting both legs.

Thomas Tuchel is striving for instant success as Chelsea managerAFP via Getty Images
Thomas Tuchel is striving for instant success as Chelsea managerAFP via Getty Images

On Saturday, they face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final and a first showdown between Tuchel and Pep Guardiola on these shores, which could serve as a pointer to what to expect next season.

While a title challenge next term is expected, Tuchel is giving rise to genuine belief there could yet be glory to be had between now and the end of this campaign.

Despite Chilwell’s defence of Lampard, it did not feel that way as Chelsea endured an alarming slump in form between December and January.

“I wouldn’t say [there has been] a shift in mentality, because under the manager before it was all about winning as well,” said the defender. “Nothing has changed there.”

Lampard was undoubtedly a winner, as his wonderfully-decorated playing career at Stamford Bridge would attest, and his sudden sacking felt harsh, coming just seven weeks after he had led Chelsea to the summit of the Premier League table.

But while he talked about the potential of the team he was building, Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia saw an expensively-assembled team tumbling out of contention of the minimum requirement of a top-four finish.

Under Tuchel, the potential is all about what the next four days hold, rather than the never-never. In that sense, everything has changed.

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