Winaholic Thomas Tuchel is hungry to follow up Chelsea FC’s Euro success story

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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Responding to success has never been easy for Chelsea managers under the reign of Roman Abramovich, particularly where Europe is concerned.

Roberto Di Matteo lasted eight months after delivering their first-ever Champions League trophy. Neither Rafa Benitez nor Maurizio Sarri were in place by the start of the following campaign after securing the Europa League. Avram Grant was a John Terry slip away from conquering Europe in 2008 and replaced around two weeks later. Thanks, but no thanks.

So how Thomas Tuchel follows May’s Champions League victory over Manchester City in Porto will be fascinating to watch.

It automatically triggered an extension in his contract and enough confidence in his approach that he was allowed to break the club transfer record to sign £97.5million Romelu Lukaku while showing the door to home-grown talent in Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.

But backing Chelsea managers in the transfer market has rarely been an issue under Abramovich. Rather it has been the amount of patience he has shown in them after doing so.

Things can turn quickly at Stamford Bridge — and Tuchel may one day look back wistfully to that heady night in Portugal where he celebrated with Abramovich on the pitch and back at the team hotel before a breakfast meeting in which both men outlined their visions of the future.

It begs the question as to what success would look like this season.

Previous managers who have enjoyed domestic success have felt the pressure of not delivering in Europe, yet success in Europe is by no means insulation against paying the ultimate price for failing to meet expectations. Tuchel has not said as much, but the suspicion is that a first Premier League title in five years is the priority this season.

The Frank Lampard project was scrapped because he failed to close the gap on City and Liverpool, with Chelsea’s owner becoming increasingly concerned about the growing dominance of those teams in recent years.

Tuchel did more than anyone to prevent City from a clean sweep last season — defeating them in the FA Cup semi-final before repeating the act in the Champions League Final. To dethrone them as Premier League champions, as well as holding off a resurgent Liverpool and a Cristiano Ronaldo-led Manchester United, will be a much sterner task.

Yet no Chelsea manager can afford to take their eyes off any of the two major prizes on offer — and retaining the Champions League would put Tuchel into territory that even Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp have not occupied.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Having won the biggest trophy in his career, Tuchel is focused on adding to it. “In the end, nothing is like winning,” said the German. “I was lucky to reach the final [with Paris Saint-Germain] the year before. And I had the feeling it was a big achievement, but not compared to the last step.

“It’s a huge difference when you realise what it means when you do it. The perception from outside, the joy, the experience, the confidence that your team gets by winning it. Then it really changes something for everybody. But the most important thing is not to look back, the most important thing is to keep the feeling and keep the hunger, because that feeling creates a hunger for more and more. It’s addictive.

“It gives you natural confidence. But at the same time it is absolutely necessary to forget it and to start from scratch, to show this hunger and mentality again. This is what I demand from myself and from everybody else, that we don’t change in terms of hunger.

“Nobody is shy here to admit that we fight for any competition that we play in. So, when we are in the Champions League, we fight for the maximum outcome.”

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