Thomas Tuchel has had a dream six months at Chelsea and now with the UEFA Champions League (UCL) triumph, he has become an instant legend. Tuchel arrived at Chelsea in January this year after being sacked by Paris Saint-Germain on the day of Christmas. He had guided PSG to the Champions League final in the last season but a rocky first half to their Ligue 1 title defence and differences with the management meant Tuchel was shown the door. He replaced Chelsea club legend Frank Lampard as the manager and in six months he showed his astuteness, tactical clarity and his ability to make a team click.
Lampard started the Chelsea season with some big summer signings in Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy. However, all the three attackers struggled to settle under the Chelsea legend and did not show their best form. Werner has been extremely unlucky and also needs to work a whole lot on his timing as he has scored a number of offside goals throughout the season. However, Havertz was showing his quality in bits and pieces but it was only after Tuchel came that the attacking line-up of Havertz, Werner and Mason Mount started clicking.
In the first half of the Premier League 2020-21 season, Chelsea registered only eight wins in 19 games, conceding 23 goals. They suffered unexpected losses to Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal. However, after Tuchel took charge, he led the team to 11 wins in 18 EPL games, conceding just 13 goals. He even got big victories against Liverpool and Manchester City. With the Champions League win on Sunday, Tuchel has done three on three on Pep Guardiola, beating the Spaniard in the league, FA Cup semi-final and UCL final.
Before Tuchel, Chelsea looked a broken team despite immense talent in the squad. They had an unpredictable attack and an extremely leaky and unassured defence. When the German took over from Lampard, he didn’t need to make any changes in the squad but simply tweaked the system to 3-4-2-1 and got better results.
What Lampard lacked and Tuchel brought to the team was a clarity in tactics and defined roles for each and every individual on the pitch and that helped every player to shine. Antonio Rudiger is back to life and has been very solid under Tuchel, Andreas Christensen has reduced his errors drastically, Cesar Azpilicueta has shown as right back in the past few weeks, Chilwell has grown into his role as left wing-back and contributes immensely to the pace in Chelsea attack and Jorginho has been solid in midfield life never before. N’Golo Kante has found his stride once again and Werner and Havertz have rewarded Tuchel’s patience.
Tuchel’s success has been in finding the strengths of his players rather than just polishing the weaknesses. There are of course matches when Chelsea are battered (like 5-2 loss to West Brom or 2-1 loss to Aston Villa in the final game of the EPL season) but there is a singular direction in which the entire team is headed.
When Tuchel took over, Chelsea were reeling in the ninth place in the Premier League. In six months, he guided Chelsea to a Top 4 finish, FA Cup final and the improbable Champions League triumph.