Tuchel’s Chelsea To-Do List: From Unlocking Werner & Havertz To Uniting A Divided Dressing Room
The German has arrived at a crisis-hit Stamford Bridge with little time to prepare his new side for a must-win Premier League clash with Wolves
Thomas Tuchel has arrived at Chelsea with a lengthy to-do list – and not a lot of time to work on it.
Having promptly replaced Frank Lampard as Blues boss following his sacking on Monday, the 47-year-old German immediately has to tackle his first game, with a new team, in a new league.
And that’s before we get into the fact that, at the time of writing, it’s still not known just how quickly he will be allowed to enter the Chelsea bubble to instruct his players face-to-face.
Chelsea, though, are confident that they can quickly resolve the issues around Covid-19 compliance so that Tuchel can properly take the reins for Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Wolves.
He certainly needs all the help he can get right now, as the Blues desperately need to win at Stamford Bridge – a run of five defeats from their last eight games has seen the Londoners drop to 10th in the table.
Chelsea’s own statement detailed that Lampard was removed because “recent results and performances have not met the cub’s expectations, leaving the club without any clear path to sustained improvement”.
Tuchel, then, is charged with making an instant impact and propelling the Blues back into the Champions League places.
However, he has never arrived at a club midway through a season, or taken over one as divided as Chelsea.
Indeed, Tuchel’s first task will be to unite a dressing room that has been split in two, with two distinct camps briefing and counter-briefing against each other following Lampard’s dismissal.
The Lampard loyalists feel bitterly disappointed that he has been forced out, but there are plenty of players who are happy that the former England international is gone as they believe it will boost their chances of breaking back into the first-team.
The main problem caused by Chelsea’s failure to sell more players after last summer’s £220 million ($275m) spending spree was that it created a bloated squad full of characters frustrated by a lack of game time.
Tuchel’s arrival should, at least, help convince everyone that the slate has been wiped clean and that each player will have a chance to shine.
There’s no denying that, having led Chelsea to the top of the league in early December, Lampard’s hold on his job was significantly weakened by his inability to get the best out of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
Tuchel will have to pay special attention to the club’s two expensive acquisitions as he attempts to get them back in form and scoring goals.
Although Tuchel’s appointment is about more than just his familiarity with the German players at the club, he can only improve on Lampard’s efforts to integrate the former Bundesliga stars into his line-up.
Of course, the former PSG and Dortmund boss has also previously worked with Thiago Silva and Christian Pulisic.
The Brazilian had a good relationship with Lampard but he was also Tuchel’s captain during their time together at Paris Saint-Germain and it will be a huge help having such an influential dressing room presence on his side.
Pulisic, meanwhile, has previously praised Tuchel for giving him his big break in senior football at Dortmund.
“I’m just very thankful for everything [Tuchel] did for me,” Pulisic said back in 2017 to Bundesliga.com. “Tuchel always trusted me and gave me a chance.
“Of course, he’s given me tips and feedback with what he sees every day in training and stuff like that, small things.”
Pulisic, then, will be excited by Tuchel’s appointment, given the American was, just like Werner and Havertz, looking out of sorts and low on confidence during Lampard’s final games in charge.
His arrival could also be good news for Jorginho and Antonio Rudiger, as Tuchel floated the idea of taking both on loan while he was still calling the shots at Parc des Princes.
Of course, it’s worth noting that PSG’s refusal to sign some of his preferred transfer targets, coupled with the departures of Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani, led to a strained relationship with club’s sporting director, Leonardo.
The mounting tension between the two ultimately led to his sacking just four months after Tuchel had led PSG to the Champions League final for the first time in their history.
“In a club, the sporting director and the coach have to walk together. This was not the case [at PSG],” Paulo Tonietto, Thiago Silva’s agent, told L’Equipe. “Tuchel always wanted to keep Thiago. The one who didn’t want to is Leonardo, and he’s the one with the power.”
It is not difficult to envisage a demanding and combustible character like Tuchel clashing with his new bosses at some point in the future too.
However, for now he will have to work with what he’s got and he will ask his new charges to play an attractive brand of football characterised by aggressive counter-pressing, a high percentage of possession and tactical flexibility.
Of course, one could argue that such an approach doesn’t differ wildly from Lampard’s philosophy but the big difference is that Tuchel has a far better track record of implementing his ideas.
With just a few staff members joining him at Cobham for now, Tuchel could be very hands on in the coming days, given he has taken an interest in diet plans, the scouting department and transfer dealings at previous clubs.
Chelsea are likely to keep him at a distance when it comes to potential signings, as they have done with previous coaches, including Antonio Conte, who openly criticised the board for their recruitment strategy.
Lampard never went as far as the Italian but he was frustrated by the fact that his interest West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Brighton centre-back Ben White went ignored.
As for Tuchel’s targets, it remains unclear who he will ask Chelsea to sign next summer, given the focus now is on offloading players, but David Alaba, whose Bayern Munich contract expires at the end of the season, will doubtless be of interest.
For now, though, Tuchel has enough on his plate after walking into a club in crisis.
That said, Chelsea are not in a dreadful position in the Premier League. The top four remains within reach, while they are still in contention in both the FA Cup and the Champions League.
The mantra will be one game at a time, though. And a win over Wolves is the first item on Tuchel’s lengthy to-do list.