Chelsea changes strategy: why Tuchel's expulsion did not come as a surprise

After 99 competitive games, Thomas Tuchel is no longer the coach of Chelsea.

Chelsea changes strategy: why Tuchel's expulsion did not come as a surprise

After 99 competitive games, Thomas Tuchel is no longer the coach of Chelsea. During his tenure, he won the Champions League title with the "Blues". But lately things were no longer going in favor of the German.

A 1-0 away defeat against Dinamo Zagreb sealed Thomas Tuchel's fate. The 49-year-old is no longer the head coach of Chelsea, with whom he enjoyed great success not too long ago. However, the start of the current season was very bumpy, which prompted the new group of owners around Todd Boehly to take this drastic step. At first glance, Tuchel's dismissal may seem like an overreaction. After all, Chelsea had to rebuild the team in the summer. This usually takes time.

Many newcomers, such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, came to Stamford Bridge mainly because of Tuchel. Although the German coach and his staff only worked in London for around a year and a half, they left their mark during this time. Chelsea FC plays a completely different kind of football than under their predecessor Frank Lampard. Enjoying possession of the ball and intelligent positional play are generally formative elements.

In the first weeks of the season, however, there was a lack of determination in some phases to play attacks with a train to the opposing goal. Instead, the back pass was chosen and the pace was taken out of the game. Despite having the third-highest ball possession rate in the Premier League, Chelsea only had the 13th most shots on goal. Chelsea's offensive power also left a lot to be desired against Dinamo Zagreb, who have only won two of their previous 30 Champions League games.

However, the fact that some of the newcomers, some of whom only joined the team during the current season, shouldn't really come as a surprise when it comes to coordination problems and the overall lack of coherence within the eleven. Chelsea invested €223m net in the summer transfer window - the highest of any club in Europe. How much the new ones cost plays only a limited role when it comes to effectively integrating them into a team. €80m centre-back Wesley Fofana assisted Zagreb's goal on Tuesday night with a positional error and attacker Aubameyang was largely ineffective on his debut. A total of four newcomers were on the starting line-up in Zagreb, and another came from the bench.

Tuchel himself still believed that the late 2-1 win against West Ham United at the weekend was a first turning point. He seemed all the more angry when the next step backwards was made away in Zagreb. "I thought we showed a reaction in a very difficult phase," said the German after the defeat. "We had good training sessions. I thought the team was well prepared. I thought we knew what this was about. I didn't see that coming so I'm angry with myself."

According to Tuchel's analysis, the team is currently missing everything. However, in Croatia he didn't sound as if he believed in a dismissal. Rather, Tuchel looked like a trainer who wanted to turn things around himself. This will no longer happen because the new management of the "Blues" decided differently. Tuchel's relationship with investors Boehly and Behdad Eghbali may have something to do with this.

The new owners pursued a hands-on strategy, unlike the previous Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who had to sell Chelsea in the summer due to sanctions against him resulting from the war in Ukraine. Boehly, for example, not only had a say in transfer decisions, but was also involved in the negotiations. It has already gotten through that the 48-year-old American has established good relationships with some club managers in Europe.

However, the consequence of the new management style was that Tuchel himself had to be more communicative. There was a WhatsApp group with the club leaders, in which, for example, transfer goals were discussed. However, Tuchel prefers it when the bosses let him do his thing and when he enjoys extensive autonomy, at least in terms of training, tactics and line-up. Boehly, on the other hand, wanted to be involved in decisions, as is sometimes the case in the relationship between team owners and coaches in the USA.

Chelsea must now look for a solution for the coaching position as soon as possible. The most suitable would be one that at least agrees with Tuchel's basic philosophy, so as not to cause too much of a playful break. In conversation is Graham Potter from Brighton

Despite limited resources, Brighton play decent football with the offensive output that Chelsea recently lacked. Incidentally, a central piece of the puzzle in the game of the southern English is the former Ingolstadt professional Pascal Groß. However, this also shows that Potter would be dealing with a different caliber of star players at the much larger club in London. Brighton is cozy, Chelsea stands for the pressure to succeed.

In the past, the "Blues" have always had a good hand with caretaker coaches such as Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink and Roberto Di Matteo. Maybe there will be a solution like this again, even if the top coaches are of course reluctant to be hired on a temporary basis.

However, Tuchel experienced first-hand that the coaching business is fast-moving anyway. After his dismissal from Paris Saint-Germain in December 2020, he had to pack his bags again and leave a top club. However, this does not damage his reputation, especially since many great coaches are no longer immune to being furloughed at some point.

In any case, Tuchel advanced his time in London. He appeared more approachable and has shown that he has extraordinary leadership qualities, especially during the uncertainty surrounding ex-owner Abramovich. In the spring, Tuchel acted at times as a kind of press spokesman for the entire club, while at the same time he had to take care of preventing increasing unrest within the team.

On top of that, the 49-year-old now has a Champions League title on his CV. As soon as another top European team needs a new coach, his name will be in the draw.

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