Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel, Todd Boehly, consortium, Hakim Ziyech, transfers, Cristiano Ronaldo, Premier League, Graham Potter
On the surface, sacking a Champions League-winning manager just weeks into a new season – and just days after the end of a record transfer spree of around £278million (474 million) – seems shocking, if not downright crazy.
But Chelsea’s decision to knock out German head coach Thomas Tuchel six games into the Premier League campaign was no thunderbolt. Rather, it was the culmination of a radical overhaul undertaken by the new owners on their 100th day in charge at Stamford Bridge – and a growing view that Tuchel’s attitude and relationship with the board was untenable.
Tuchel was appointed in January 2021 and guided the Blues to Champions League glory in six months. He added UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup honours, and reached the FA Cup and EFL Cup finals only to lose to Liverpool twice. The 49-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the world.
But after a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday (AEST) – his 100th game in charge of the Blues – he was out at 9.30am the next morning, the latest victim of the new owner group’s mass. gather.
In fact, The Telegraph reported that the decision had already been made: “the German would have been dismissed win, lose or draw in Croatia”.
PL bomb as Chelsea SACK manager Thomas Tuchel after staggering $461m transfer spree
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Todd Boehly, the American co-owner of the LA Dodgers, has led a consortium bid to take over Chelsea in a massive £4.25 billion (A$7.25 billion) deal, ousting Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in May.
Immediately, they set about revamping the Premier League giants with the long-term aim of catching up with Manchester City and Liverpool.
Manager Marina Granovskaia and chairman Bruce Buck were the first out, before club legend and technical and performance adviser Petr Cech followed despite being asked to stay. Chelsea’s greatest ever goalkeeper had been instrumental as a front-office worker, not only in building club culture but also in transfers – he was the one who fought tooth and nail for the club to sign Edouard Mendy for £20m, now a pittance for one of the world’s best glovemakers.
The trio of departures meant that none of the executives in place at the time of Tuchel’s arrival remained. It also meant that Boehly became both chairman and interim sporting director, playing an immediate and incredibly powerful role in transfer deals. For a man with no experience in the football industry, it was a huge risk.
Initially, Boehly and his co-owners were convinced that Tuchel was the man to guide the club forward, relying on his knowledge and advice in the first weeks after the takeover.
They backed him in the transfer window, initially promising up to six new signings. They finished with nine, for a staggering outlay of nearly £300million – easily the most in Europe and a record for a transfer window.
But the departures of experienced transfer experts like Granovskaia or Cech meant a heavy burden for Tuchel in the transfer market – something he never relished.
“It’s not my favorite thing to do and in the long run the focus has to be on training because that’s why I’m here,” he said. “But at the moment, of course, my help is needed and wanted and of course it is necessary for me to step in and take responsibility.”
Nonetheless, it was Boehly and his co-owner Behdad Eghbali who carried the load in the transfer window, traveling the world to sign new players. It was widely reported that players’ agents contacted Boehly directly, trying to circumvent the usual sequence of negotiations. Chelsea’s transfer window, expensive as it was, sometimes gave the impression that the club had taken a scattered approach to the market. This was the case when the Blues’ new owners were extremely keen to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, someone Tuchel had no interest in.
According to The Telegraph, it was a harbinger in the relationship between Tuchel and Boehly. Matt Law wrote: “The American [was] reluctant to simply take ‘no’ for an answer from Tuchel, who sources said seemed exasperated at having to explain his reasons for not wanting the Portuguese.”
Respected German journalist Christian Falk claims that Tuchel even told Boehly: “He [Ronaldo] will destroy the spirit in my lodge.
Ronaldo was left at Old Trafford, while Tuchel was backed to sign his former Borussia Dortmund manager Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on deadline day. Even still, it had been a chaotic transfer window and the relationship between owner and manager was unraveling. The Telegraph reports that the owners have created a WhatsApp group with Tuchel to improve their communication and discuss transfers – regardless of the fact that Tuchel has long preferred to keep his distance from owners and club hierarchies, and instead relies on his close-knit group of coaches. to solve any problems in the field.
Tuchel’s island approach has put the revered manager at odds with the club’s new management.
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Tuchel has publicly stated that he is not interested in helping guide the search for a new sporting director. For Boehly, who operated his LA Dodgers franchise with a long-term approach and was looking to do the same at Chelsea, Tuchel’s reluctance to adapt and commit to the process of long-term reform was a factor. major in the sacking of the German. The Telegraph reports: “There is also a desire for all departments at Chelsea to become more intertwined and cooperative.”
On the pitch, the results were slipping and Tuchel was more irritable than ever. His ugly touchline after the draw against Spurs earned him a hefty fine and a one-game ban; his series of rants about the performance and mentality of his players did him a disservice in the dressing room.
After Southampton, he grumbled: “But it was too easy to deflect us, it was too easy to intimidate us… Soft, soft, soft in defence. You know what stops that? Pure mentality. There is no superiority for the adversary. Just toughen up and show the mentality.
The club have dropped to three defeats in a row, the latest being a bizarre defeat against Zagreb. Tuchel changed formation three times in just 45 minutes – and exploded again after the defeat.
He said: “I’m mad at myself and I’m mad at our performance. This is a huge underperformance from all of us. It’s not precise enough, it’s not clinical enough, it’s not aggressive enough. It’s not determined enough and not enough individually and not enough as a team and that’s why we lose this match… A lack of determination, a lack of hunger and a lack of intensity in fact to do the things that we have need at the highest level.
Tuchel moved Mason Mount from central midfield to the left side before moving him again to a central attacking midfield role. Tuchel’s muddled tactics and the deployment of players in unusual positions strained the squad.
The Telegraph wrote: “The atmosphere at Chelsea’s training ground was described as tense and Tuchel’s popularity took a nose dive with a group of players who felt they had been treated unfairly, both in terms of team selections than positions they were invited to play.”
Hakim Ziyech illustrates this point. Away from the squad under Tuchel, he tried to negotiate a departure from the club – only for Tuchel to pitch the player in the loss to Southampton. The player was dropped immediately for the following game, only to be thrown into a disadvantaged left-back role at half-time in Zagreb. His performance did his manager a disservice.
In the end, it was not the results on the pitch but Tuchel’s attitude that proved his demise. Chelsea’s new owners want a long-term revolution and a manager who is also committed to that process – and to their relationship. Tuchel was not that man. Graham Potter just might be.