Why Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea are the perfect fit with adventure just beginning

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has become the poster boy for changing managers mid-season  (Getty Images)
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has become the poster boy for changing managers mid-season (Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel blushed slightly as he tried to come up with the reason for his spectacular impact on Chelsea in less than 12 months in charge.

Grasping for an answer, his response was wholly unconvincing.

“You need a bit of luck,” he said without conviction.

In reality, he is right – but the luck is all on Chelsea’s part.

Lucky that when they decided to brutally end the Frank Lampard project in January, one of the world’s elite managers happened to be on the market and was desperate to prove a point.

Lucky that Paris Saint-Germain took the baffling decision to sack a manager who had won back-to-back league titles and led them to the Champions League final just four months earlier.

And lucky that Tuchel did not allow his pride to get the better of him when insulted by the offer of an initial 18-month contract.

10 months on and the German has lifted club football’s biggest prize and currently looks down on Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp at the top of the Premier League.

How Tottenham crave a taste of that success with Antonio Conte after dispensing with Nuno Espirito Santo.

Manchester United, too, would perhaps be less willing to back beleaguered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer if they could guarantee a similar impact to the one Tuchel has had at Stamford Bridge.

That the German was on Ed Woodward’s personal watchlist will be of particular frustration to Old Trafford’s hierarchy.

Tuchel was an inspired choice, if not necessarily the first choice for Chelsea, who were big admirers of Julian Nagelsmann. And that is where luck plays its part again, given the now Bayern Munich manager’s reluctance to leave former club RB Leipzig mid-season.

While fortune and sport are inseparable, Chelsea have been rewarded for appointing a manager whose meticulous attention to detail and problem-solving qualities has seen him suss out English football’s top-flight in no time and ‘get’ a club whose owner is notoriously hard to please.

Perhaps it is a result of his experiences at PSG, but Tuchel seems to embrace the demands of Roman Abramovich like few others.

More so than Lampard, who spoke of future success in the manner of someone who had not been integral to the Russian’s trophy-laden revolution and witnessed first-hand the managerial casualties that came as a result of that.

“It seems to be the perfect fit for me from day one,” said Tuchel ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League tie with Malmo. “I am super happy to be at this club, to be part of the club and maybe this is the last per cent.

“If you feel happy and appreciated, everything falls into place very genuinely and you are able to produce results together.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Tuchel has become the poster boy for clubs considering mid-season change.

He is an example of what is possible, no matter how unreasonable it would be to expect the same of anyone else.

While Abramovich’s decisiveness and overwhelming belief that last season was salvageable were both key factors in the 48-year-old’s remarkable achievements, there is an element of the right man at the right time. And his sacking by PSG was pivotal.

“I don’t know if I needed extra motivation but, of course, I wasn’t happy to be sacked at Christmas because my mission was not fulfilled,” said Tuchel. “I had big plans for the Champions League campaign, and to win the league again. I was hungry and on the way. It was a huge interruption, of course.

“But then some days later, some weeks later, came a huge opportunity and the desire to step into this adventure was bigger than the fear and concern about the 18-month contract.

“It is what it is in football. You need to take the adventure, be brave, courageous and I have the feeling I got a big reward. I am happy where I am.

“I am in this place because of my experiences at other clubs and teams before. I am grateful I learned this job at academy level, I’m grateful that some people in my career trusted me and gave me confidence, starting with my parents, then bosses in the youth academies, and later managers.

“Then the target is to get better every day, every match, never stop learning and progressing as a coach.”

The adventure Tuchel speaks of still feels like it has only just begun and Chelsea are enjoying the ride.

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