Who Is Thomas Tuchel?
With the somewhat predictable, yet nonetheless sad news of Frank Lampard’s departure from Stamford Bridge, a new question became immediately apparent. Who will replace the Blues legend? Step up German hothead, Thomas Tuchel. But who is this supposed footballing mastermind?
To avid fans of French and German Football, the man is a fairly well-known quantity with a impressive and at times spectacular CV of work to his name. However, it seems to many a Sky Sports pundit he’s just the argumentative bloke that ‘failed’ at PSG, which while not wholly false is incredibly unfair and ignorant.
Tuchel started his career in Management with FC Augsburg’s 2nd team. His first job with a 1st team came in 2009 at Mainz 05, when a certain Jurgen Klopp moved to Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund. At Mainz Tuchel stepped into a seriously lacklustre squad that seemed destined for a miserable relegation scrap and yet, he led them to a remarkable 9th placed finish. A brilliant placing of 5th followed the next season with the German able to truly implement his frighteningly intense brand of pressing with great success. He wouldn’t beat this in the following three seasons with two 13th placed finishes and 7th in his final season in charge. He left the Carnival Club (yes, that really is their nickname) with a brilliant 39.56% win rate.
A dispute over funds and the boards ambitions was what finally led to Tuchel demanding he be let out of his contract in the summer of 2014, a combative attitude that would follow him to his next two jobs.
Tuchel was regarded as the logical replacement for Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund due to the similarities between their ‘heavy metal’ pressing game. This pigeonholing of Tuchel is rather unfair, and his time at Dortmund showed that when given the right tools, he could adapt his game.
He would end his first season in charge runners up in both the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal, although this still displayed a significant improvement upon Klopp’s 7th placed finish the year before. More than this though, he managed to show a more diverse range of tactical ideas, utilising a midfield three to focus on rotational passing for rapid runners from deep and on the wings. His attacking football was so deadly that it led to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 56 goals in 63 league appearances under this system. Season two saw much of the same attack minded play with the additions of Ousmane Dembélé, Marc Bartra, and Raphaël Guerreiro. Despite a 3rd place finish this year, Tuchel led the Black and Yellows to the DFB Pokal, beating arch rivals Bayern Munich on the way.
Despite delivering them their first silverware in five years and having a win rate of 62.96%, Tuchel was sacked just 3 days later. Again, it came down to clashes with the hierarchy at the club, more specifically with the CEO and chief scout Sven Mislintat. The fallings out also spilled over into the playing squad, with senior players like Roman Weidenfeller, Neven Subotić, and Jakub Błaszczykowski turning on the manager. What looked like a great match on the pitch yet again fell apart off of it.
After Unai Emery’s unsuccessful spell at PSG, they turned Tuchel as the man that could finally deliver them their ultimate goal, the Champions League. Whilst this ultimately failed, he did win two league titles, a Coup de France and a Coup de la Ligue during his tenure. Despite these achievements and a run to the Champions league final, he was sacked yet again for serious divisions with the board. It started almost immediately this time when he complained vocally about the lack of investment into the fullback areas, in the same summer that saw the permanent purchase of Kylian Mbappé.
Tuchel famously said in an interview that he ‘felt more like a politician than a coach’. This outburst in particular led to a public response from sporting director Leonardo, a man that Tuchel famously had a horrific relationship with. Ultimately, despite having the highest win percentage (75.6%) in Ligue 1 history, Tuchel was let go on December 24th, 2020.
With Tuchel now out of a job many assumed he would take a holiday and wait out until the summer before deciding his next moves. This obviously changed with Lampard’s sacking at the Bridge. Now the German faces a brand-new challenge in a brand-new league.
I’d argue that given his track record in getting his teams to playing exciting, blistering and simply enjoyable football, he will be a great addition to the Premier League. I can also see him getting far more out of what is undeniably a ridiculously talented squad at Chelsea. The only problem I can foresee, and it is a serious one, is the relationships he’ll l have to work out with the often ridiculous board at the club. Not to mention the trigger-happy man at the top of it all, Roman Abramovich.