January 27 – As predicted, Thomas Tuchel has become the 11th full-time Chelsea manager in the ruthless 18-year Roman Abramovich era following Frank Lampard’s sacking, and takes charge of the club for the first time tonight at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Tuchel was handed an initial 18-month contract, almost exactly the same amount of time Lampard was given before being shown the door, to improve the club’s fortunes – barely a month after he was fired by Paris Saint-Germain.
Lampard, a Chelsea legend as the club’s all-time top scorer but a relative novice as a coach, was fired on Monday after a run of five losses in eight league games, seemingly threatening Champions League qualification but with half the season still to go.
Conversely, Tuchel was forced to hang up his playing boots through injury at the age of 24 but is vastly more experienced as a coach after spells in his native Germany with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, with whom he won the German Cup, and then PSG where he spent two and half years and led them to the Champions League final last season.
“It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe’s best coaches in Thomas Tuchel,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia
Known very much as control freak, as well as a master tactician, Tuchel, 47, is said to have fallen out with the powers that be at PSG – just as he did at Dortmund – but will be expected to make better use than Lampard of the £220 million spent by Chelsea on new players last summer.
“We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard’s work and the legacy he created at Chelsea,” was Tuchel’s first public comment on filling the hot seat that has burned so many of his predecessors.
“At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family – it feels amazing.”
When Lampard was appointed in July, 2019, there were many who applauded Chelsea for going in a different direction by choosing one of their own. But ultimately it ended in trademark short-termism as they reverted to type by dispending with his services – even though he managed to steer them to fourth place last season despite being hamstrung by a transfer ban.
One of Tuchel’s main tasks will be to cut out any semblance of player power at a club renowned for just that.
But he could be just the man to get the best out of compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, two of the big-name signings last summer but who have struggled to live up to their price tags.
“I would like to thank Chelsea FC for their confidence in me and my staff,” said Tuchel.
Now he has to hit the ground running.
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