Tuchel has work cut out

Blues boss faces 'tricky' task of getting the best out of new blood

Chelsea's new German manager Thomas Tuchel will need underperforming compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to play at their previous high levels in the Bundesliga.
Chelsea's new German manager Thomas Tuchel will need underperforming compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to play at their previous high levels in the Bundesliga.

LONDON • Several years after he first spoke with Chelsea about taking over at Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel has been charged with revitalising their Premier League title bid after Frank Lampard's sacking on Monday.

The German was not officially announced by press time but multiple media reports said he flew into London in order to take charge of his first training session yesterday.

Tuchel did not face a 10-day quarantine upon his arrival in London thanks to an elite sport exemption programme imposed by the British government, with the only requirement being a negative Covid-19 test prior to boarding.

The 47-year-old is the 15th manager since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich took over in 2003.

Tuchel's first task at hand will be to get the best out of the £200 million (S$364 million) of talent that was brought in during the close season, including German internationals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

Despite their big-money price tags, both have struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game.

Werner has scored just once in his last 15 appearances, while Havertz has fared worse with only one goal in 16 top-flight games.

But former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot believes Tuchel, with his Bundesliga experience, can get the best out of his compatriots, while he already has experience working with Christian Pulisic at Dortmund and Thiago Silva at Paris Saint-Germain.

"It's going to be tricky, but when a new coach comes in everybody gets a new wind," he told talkSport radio. "So he is really connected to some of the German players, especially the expensive guys like Werner and Havertz."

But Tuchel, who is on a reported 18-month contract with an option for a further year, knows that he will have exactly half a season to turn Chelsea's campaign, which also includes a tough Champions League last-16 tie with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, around.

He is well-versed in the school of hard knocks of being a manager, having been fired at the end of last month despite guiding PSG to the Champions League final just four months earlier and winning the domestic treble.

His falling out with sporting director Leonardo played a large part in that and his habit of fractious relations with his employers - both at the French giants and at Dortmund - does not bode well for his prospects at a club with such a famously impatient owner.

Tuchel will need to maintain good relations with influential director Marina Granovskaia if he is not to suffer the same fate as his predecessors.

Lampard's broken relationship with the Russian-Canadian was said to be one of the reasons why the club great, Chelsea's greatest goalscorer, was dismissed and pundit Gary Neville already feels his successor is on borrowed time.

"Tuchel will be exposed to exactly the same rules as Frank," said the former England international. "We'll be talking about him being let go in the next 18 months to two years, I'm pretty sure of that."

Meanwhile, Lampard admitted in his farewell message on Instagram that he was "disappointed not to have had time this season to move the club forward and take it to the next level", with Chelsea players like Reece James, Silva and Tammy Abraham all leaving messages of support.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2021, with the headline 'Tuchel has work cut out'. Subscribe