Chelsea FC: A New Dawn
Chelsea Football Club have sacked Thomas Tuchel with his dismissal as much bewildering as surprising. An air of “here we go again” surrounds the fanbase but is this just another case of deja vu? Or is this the start of a calculated renaissance by the new owners?
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
New ownership headed by Todd Boehly, has splashed the cash this summer having invested more than £250 million in new signings. Players whom we were led to believe were Tuchel’s choices as he was supposedly involved in all transfer dealings. Considering the record-breaking amount of money spent, it would have been fair to assume that Tuchel would be afforded time to blend his squad into a side, that could better challenge the top two of Manchester City and Liverpool.
However, this was not the case. Following Tuesday’s dismal defeat in Zagreb, the German was shown the same door as so many before him.
During his reign of a little over 18 months, Thomas Tuchel delivered an unlikely Champions League title, an FA cup final, and a top 4 finish. All this after inheriting a side that was floundering under his predecessor: Frank Lampard.
In his only full season, he produced the one trophy that had alluded the Blues so far: The Club World Cup. That being alongside the European Super Cup and two domestic cup finals, in which they were equal to a strong Liverpool side, only losing, on each occasion, by the way of the lottery that is penalty shootouts. Tuchel also ensured Chelsea finished 3rd as “best of the rest”, behind Man City and Liverpool despite being thrown a Government curveball following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine
Former Russian owner Roman Abramovich was forced into selling the club he had owned for just under 20 years when all of his assets were frozen. Whilst the Russian Oligarch was sanctioned, Chelsea were left unable to sell tickets, and merchandise, negotiate new deals for players like Rudiger, and were left uncertain as to how to travel to away games.
With a camera-shy Board, Thomas Tuchel found himself in the unfamiliar role of a PR man, forced to face a barrage of questions about the sanctions and the future of the football club.
In the June of this year, the club was sold for a world record fee to an American Consortium led by LA Dodgers Co-owner: Todd Boehly.
Following the change in ownership, there was a sweeping of the decks that saw the swift departures of Chairman Bruce Buck, Transfer Guru Marina Granovskaia, and Technical Director and club legend Petr Cech.
Out With The Old
Following Tuchel’s split with his partner, players were finding him increasingly agitated and critical.
Both players and fans bemoaned his insistence on picking those who were out of form and continually playing out of position. Mason Mount and Kai Havertz have made appearances in all 6 of Chelsea’s premier league games so far and have only recorded 1 goal involvement combined. Meanwhile, Conor Gallagher has also looked like a shadow of his former self having put in a fair few under-par performances so far this season. However, could you really expect anything different when he’s deployed as a pivot player alongside Jorginho, rather than further up the pitch?
There has also been lethargy in Chelsea’s play this season and concern about the manner in which they were losing games. Whilst Tuchel complained about his players’ lack of intensity and character, they grew tired of his constant criticism and stubbornness. Fans loved his animated persona, gesticulating and ranting on the sidelines, however for those players operating on the flanks, it was just getting an angry earful.
Palpable discord was becoming all too common between Tuchel and his players and more significantly, between him and Boehly.
It is reported that Tuchel probably didn’t have the best of starts with his new boss either. Boehly’s philosophy is that of a collaborative structure, which is very much an American Club theme. An all-inclusive culture, a “we’re all in this together approach”. Tuchel found this difficult and resisted. He chose to isolate himself and was reluctant to get involved in transfer affairs.
Todd Boehly was keen on signing Cristiano Ronaldo, who was looking to leave Manchester United for Champions League Football. Tuchel dismissed this idea for fear of adding unnecessary ego to the dressing room. The relationship was already becoming strained. Unbeknownst to Tuchel, this was the beginning of the end. Boehly had already decided. He had to go.
In With The New
Todd Boehly was eager to replace Thomas Tuchel as he threw the money at promising English coach: Graham Potter. Chelsea see Potter as a bright and innovative coach and have backed him with a 5 year deal worth a staggering £60 million.
Although this whole ordeal came as a surprise to many, including Tuchel himself, reports suggest that Chelsea’s Board may have been plotting the switch for some time behind the scenes. We are left to wonder whether these signings made by Chelsea were ever really for Tuchel, or with a different man at the helm, in mind.
Boehly’s plan is seemingly long-term. A sizeable portion of his summer spending has been invested in young talents such as Chukwuemeka and Casadei and he’ll hope Potter can replicate his ability shown at Brighton, for developing and nurturing youth into starters.
Can Potter Succeed?
Graham Potter undoubtedly worked wonders with Brighton but can he live up to his surname and work the magic at Chelsea too? A mid-table finish with the Seagulls is regarded as a big success however the same with Chelsea would go down as a monumental disaster!
However, questions are being asked about Potter’s experience. Competing in the Champions League with Chelsea will be a bit of a step up from fighting for mid-table supremacy with Brighton, so can he manage it?
Obviously, the Chelsea players are professionals but will they hold Potter in as high regard as previous managers? They might be grateful for the fresh start but Potter clearly lacks the pedigree of his predecessors. A 10th place Championship finish with Swansea and getting Brighton their highest ever Premier League placement shows a level of promise, but it’s not the same glittery career path typical of Chelsea managers. Granted he took the took the Swedish minnows Ostersund from the fourth tier to the top division too but it hardly lives up to the CVs of Mourinho, Ancelotti, Conte, et al.
He’ll definitely have to face some bigger egos than what he’s used to at Brighton but hopefully, a degree in emotional intelligence, which the English Coach has, will prove useful for combatting that.
A 5-year deal suggests Potter will be given time however, Chelsea is a club whose ideal is based on dining at football’s top table. To maintain that, results must be delivered on the pitch. Although it has been reported that he’ll be backed even if he fails to achieve a top 4 finish, Graham Potter cannot afford to have any complacency. So far this board has displayed the same ruthlessness as the previous one.
Only time will tell on Graham Potter and whether this really is a new dawn at Chelsea or whether it’s just a new regime with the same old principles. After all, Roman Abramovich did handpick his successor.
Let us know what you think about the current situation at Chelsea on our Twitter page: @aftermatchftbl. Was it right for Tuchel to be sacked and is Graham Potter a step forward for the Blues?