Replacing a popular club figure is never easy, but with Chelsea’s latest coach you’d never know it. In his first engagements with the media, Thomas Tuchel breezed into the Bridge to replace Frank Lampard, aiming to bring warmth and charisma to the Chelsea hot seat.
Lampard’s exit was inevitable; spending over £200m on new talent demanded success. But ninth place in January wasn’t a quick enough return for Roman Abramovich. Harsh? Maybe. Surprising? Definitely not.Embed from Getty Images
The Lampard appointment seemed like a new direction and an investment in something more long-term. His swift exit was a harsh lesson for a fairly novice manager at the cutthroat top end of the game.
In hiring Tuchel, Chelsea have actually reverted to type. Someone with pedigree at the top, with some experience of success in the Champions League. A coach who has handled top-tier players and, crucially, has a tactial blueprint to follow.
Playing the Tuchel way
Tuchel replaced Jurgen Klopp at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, and Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain. So the man has good grounding in reshaping very distinctive teams.
The blessing of taking over at Chelsea, is that the club doesn’t really have a rigid system for him to rework. Lampard still hadn’t even decided his best XI.Embed from Getty Images
The 47 year-old German has proved to be tactically versatile in his career so far. He’s a fan of attacking wing-backs, so expect to see Ben Chilwell and Reece James used higher up the pitch.
A 3-5-2 formation depends on solid centre-backs. Antonio Rudiger will no doubt be at the heart of the back 3, alongside either Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva or Cesar Azpilicueta.
Tuchel is also a big fan of Christian Pulisic from their Dortmund days, so the American should be a trusted name on his teamsheet.
At PSG he preferred width in the final third, with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe often cutting in or providing chances for central forward Edinson Cavani. How he uses Chelsea’s wealth of attacking talent will be interesting to see.
Thomas Tuchel brings the German connection to ChelseaEmbed from Getty Images
However he can bring the best out of German compatriots Kai Havertz and Timo Werner will be a big measure of success for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea. The pair were signed to great fanfare in the summer, after lighting up the Bundesliga and the national team previously.
He could deploy Werner as a loan striker, with a supporting 3 of Pulisic, Havertz and Hakim Ziyech behind. This would mean Lampard’s golden boy Mason Mount dropping deeper to accommodate.
With Jorginho and Ngolo Kante also available to anchor the midfield, Tuchel’s options are plenty.
If he can quickly figure out a system and a formation to accommodate and rotate his stars – while getting the best out of them – Tuchel might get this talented Chelsea team firing.