Reasons that led to demise of Thomas Tuchel’s reigns at Chelsea

Swapnil
By Swapnil
16 Min Read
Chelsea-Thomas-Tuchel

The time is 10 AM BST, Chelsea have just lost to Dinamo Zagreb the other day. The fans were still disappointed from the lackluster performance in the Champions League fixture and then a bombshell was dropped, “Chelsea Football Club part company with Thomas Tuchel,” said their official website.

To call it a surprise would be an understatement. As things stood, Chelsea were sixth in the league and, thanks to AC Milan’s draw with RB Salzburg, the Blues’ hopes of advancing as group winners to the next stage of Europe’s most prestigious competition suffered little damage. But Tuchel was relieved of his duties as the manager of Chelsea Football Club. This felt like a knee-jerk reaction considering we are just six league games into the season.

But there are many things that have happened in due course of Todd Boehly – Clearlake Capital ownership’s 100 days as custodians of the World Champions that has led us down to such a strange decision. We will present views both from the ownership’s perspective and from Thomas’ perspective.

THE BOEHLY PERSPECTIVE

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New owners and new promises are common in football. And the Boehly led group also made some significant promises to Chelsea fans. They promised to be pioneers of football and also said that they would bring major success on and off the field. And they did start making good on their promises. The club spent nearly £260m worth of talents whilst also successfully getting rid of some of the players who were considered deadwood. Tuchel was given a major say on who to buy and whom not to; it was led to believe at that time. But this event meant that Thomas was unable to devote a lot of time on the training ground.

“I am in contact with Todd directly on a daily basis, and sometimes more than once on a daily basis (about transfers). My concern is for the team to be competitive. This is where my focus is and has to be. For this we have to invest a lot of time and we need to be hands-on. There is no other way. I am very glad I have the staff, not only my staff but also the football staff and we have a certain routine that I can rely on. It is very time-consuming (the recruitment conversations).  It’s not my favourite thing to do and in the long run the focus has to be on coaching because it is why I am here. But at the moment, of course, my help is needed and wanted. It is of course necessary that I step up and take responsibility.” 

DISAGREEMENTS ON SIGNINGS

Things started to become a bit more awkward. Todd Boehly, in the face of the exits of Marina Granovskaia & Petr Cech, had taken over as the club’s interim sporting director. Normally, managers clash with the club’s director of football but when your owner is the DOF you have to be a bit more cautious.

Disagreements took place when the owners felt the need to sign a midfielder due to the situation with Kante and Jorginho’s contracts but Thomas felt that he had what he needed to start the new season with the same set of midfield players. Again due to Kante and Kovacic being out due to injuries, the hierarchy again had to dip into the market to sign players in the eleventh hour and they managed to secure Dennis Zakaria on a loan move.

All these ones aside, the biggest one was that of Cristiano Ronaldo. Arguably the biggest athlete on the planet, Boehly was intrigued on the possibility of signing and subsequently also had a meeting with Jorge Mendes, Cristiano’s agent. But having dealt with the likes of Neymar and Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain, the coach had his reservations about the player. The owner backed his coach, but as the preseason unfolded, there was less certainty that Tuchel was the best choice to be the club’s manager.

TUCHEL’S DISAGREEMENTS WITH FIRST-TEAM PLAYERS

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When Frank Lampard lost his job at Chelsea, a lot of players’ relationships with him were also fractured at that time. Fikayo Tomori, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Kepa Arrizabalaga just to name a few. When the German was announced as the head coach, he brought a lot of these players back and everyone started with a clean slate.

The coach and players all looked like they had a great relationship with each other for years and yet it was only a few months time. The German was very effective in communicating every decision that he took and explained the players absence from the starting XI as he chose to do so. Chelsea became the champions of Europe for the second time under stewardship in what could be the best job a manager could do in just four months of his appointment.

But in the second half of his tenure, things shifted dramatically. One source revealed that Tuchel didn’t give a single piece of information to players for an entire year. He offered no guidance to the players on how he could get back into his team whenever they fell out of the starting XI, so naturally, these players felt isolated, rather than being given advice on how to improve their situations.

Almost the entire attacking assets wanted to leave the club before the commencement of the 2022-23 season owning to inconsistency in their game time and there was a feeling that their involvements had gotten worse under his regime. Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi were all deeply unhappy.

TOO MANY OWNERS SPOIL THE BROTH?

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The Boehly – Clearlake ownership is not owned and run by a single entity. Todd Boehly might be the face of this regime but Clearlake Capital, Hansjörg Wyss & Mark Walter are also part of this ownership group. Along with these Behdad Eghbali, Daniel Finkelstein and Jonathan Goldstein who serve as the directors of the club also have a big say in the way the club is run.

Naturally, every director and owner wanted to speak to the main man at the club and each of them had their ideas on how to proceed into this new era. By the end of pre-season, there were endless meetings with different owners demanding his time at breakfast, lunch and dinner meaning Thomas had little time to spend on the football pitch which is his main job. So in order to delegate some of his work, he sent his agent to some of the recruitment meetings so he could focus on coaching the team. 

A TALE OF TWO FIFTIES 

Performance is another important factor as to why Tuchel was let go. The ownership had a reevaluation of every single member associated with Chelsea Football Club be it players, staff members and also the manager falls under this category.

The ownership noted that in the first fifty games, Thomas and his side performed to their absolute best, the second half of 100 there was a clear drop in the performance of the team.

FIRST FIFTY GAMES IN CHARGE LAST FIFTY GAMES IN CHARGE
Won: 32 Won: 28
Drawn: 11 Drawn: 13
Lost: 7 Lost: 9
Goals for: 81 Goals for: 87
Goals against: 24 Goals against: 53
Clean sheets: 24 Clean sheets: 18
Points per game: 2.14 Points per game: 1.94
Win rate: 64% Win rate: 56%
Loss rate: 14% Loss rate: 18%
Goals per game: 2.53 Goals per game: 1.74
Goals against per game: 0.48 Goals against per game: 1.06

Players making unforced errors in crucial moments of the season and some of them unable to match the levels required to cope with the needs of the Premier League or the Champions League all contributed to a sharp decline in every metric of the team.

WEIRD CONTRACT SITUATION

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Thomas Tuchel was the figure that all of Chelsea looked up to when the storm hit the Bridge i.e the unexpected departure of their owner Roman Abramovich. His ability to tackle tough and difficult questions thrown at him despite the fact he was just the manager of the football club and not a member of the hierarchy was impressive. If we consider his time at West London’s biggest club then he should have had plenty of credit in football terms for his job security. Also the new owners had initiated talks with the manager to extend his stay beyond his current deal.

But as things moved on, the owner slowly became unconvinced whether he is the right man to lead the club. Tuchel publicly said that his agent was in talks for a deal but the talks for such a deal were stopped for months and for the German to say that framework for the deal was agreed came as a big shock.

THE TUCHEL PERSPECTIVE

There are always two sides to a story and this is no different, Thomas Tuchel is probably one of most elite coaches on the globe and his impressive stints at Dortmund and PSG to go along with an amazing spell at Stamford Bridge to back it up.

TUCHEL DESERVED MORE 

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These are the words that every Chelsea must have muttered to themselves when they first heard about this unexpected decision. The magnitude of amazing work he has done at the club cannot be forgotten.

Thomas Tuchel masterminded arguably the biggest trophy that Chelsea could win in just space of arriving midseason. He also led the club in tough times when the ownership change took place. His eloquence and admirable public leadership throughout the unprecedented series of geopolitical events cannot be quantified in footballing metrics to go along with the fact that he had issues outside of football to deal with as well. He did not let all of these come in the way of his job and guided Chelsea to two domestic cup finals — both lost by the tiniest of penalty-shootout margins to Liverpool — and a third-place finish in the Premier League which meant he secured Champions League football for the incoming owners with room to spare.

The reward he got for all his work was to be sacked by people who did not hire him and so yes TUCHEL DESERVED MORE.

BOEHLY PROBABLY MAKING THE INCORRECT DECISION

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When new owners come in, they feel it is important to mark their territory in their home. And Todd and co. felt the same letting go of the experienced transfer operator like Granovskaia in the middle of a window and allowing Petr Cech to depart without any suitable replacement. To compound it Todd Boehly took on the role of interim sporting director which is probably a bigger error than letting off those two.

It’s one thing to have a hands-on approach in a sport with no prior experience and it is another to start making transfer decisions in a sport you have hardly any knowledge about. Tuchel had a great relationship with Cech and without his ally, he felt the burden of doing too many things in just a short space of time.

Boehly and Eghbali made a bad impression on Tuchel in one early recruitment meeting when they accidentally started having discussions for players to play in a ‘4-4-3’ formation. They also failed to deliver targets like Matthijs de Ligt, Raphinha, Frenkie de Jong and Presnel Kimpembe due to the new regime’s adamancy on signing players through data led recruitment.

TUCHEL IS GONE, WHAT NOW?

So, we have reached the end of this ‘he said, she said’ discussion. The new owners have wasted no time in approaching Brighton & Hove Albion’s Graham Potter. The club agreed to pay a massive compensation of £21m+ in compensation for Potter and his staff to join Chelsea, the biggest such compensation paid for a manager.

Also, the club, along with some assurances to Graham that the club will move forward under his leadership, has promised to appoint a sporting director before the World Cup begins which will allow him to work with the director to secure targets that will fit his ideas and philosophies in the near future.

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