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January 27, 2021

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Tuchel ready for Blues challenge

Thomas Tuchel is set to be the next high-profile coach to become Chelsea manager several years after he first spoke with the team about the job.

The 47-year-old German will be the 15th change of manager since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought the English Premier League club in 2003 and replaces Frank Lampard.

Tuchel follows some noteworthy predecessors in Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, who have also fallen foul of Abramovich in the past — the former fired a season after delivering the domestic double.

Lampard discovered how sentiment is not part of Abramovich’s DNA as he dispensed with the club’s record goalscorer after just 18 months in charge.

The enigmatic Russian did break with tradition in commenting on the sacking which rather sugar-coated the brutality of the firing.

“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” said Abramovich.

“He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics.”

Whilst Lampard expressed his disappointment Tuchel’s task will be to get the best out of the 200-million pound (US$300 million) of talent that was brought in in the close season.

Tuchel is well versed in the school of hard knocks of being a manager having been sent packing at the end of December months after guiding Paris Saint-Germain to the UEFA Champions League final.

His falling out with PSG sporting director Leonardo played a large part in that and his habit of fractious relations with his employers does not bode well.

Primordial will be maintaining good relations with the all-powerful director Marina Zanovskaia if he too is not to suffer the same fate as his predecessors.

“Tuchel will be exposed to exactly the same rules as Frank,” said Lampard’s former England teammate Gary Neville.

“We’ll be talking about him being let go in the next 18 months to two years, I’m pretty sure of that.”

Tuchel’s ambition has always been to manage an EPL club like fellow German and also a former Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp.

He did hold talks with Chelsea over replacing Italian Antonio Conte after he left Dortmund in 2017 but whilst he impressed Zanovskaia he ended up at PSG.

Lampard had declared himself to be a fighter last Friday but his words fell on deaf ears in the boardroom as they fired him the day after a FA Cup win over Championship side Luton Town.

“I am disappointed not to have had the time this season to take the club forward and bring it to the next level,” sad Lampard.

However, despite a fourth-placed finish last season with a largely young side other statistics point to why Abramovich decided to cut him loose.

Lampard’s EPL points-per-game average of 1.67 is the lowest for any Chelsea manager since Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003.

Tuchel will be hard-pressed to have any impact prior to the EPL game with Wolverhampton Wanderers today but he will at least have a first-hand view of his players.

The Chelsea board will hope that he will be able to engineer far better performances out of his two compatriots Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.

The latter in particular has gone off the boil and looked nothing like a 52-million pound striker, missing a penalty against Luton summing up his lack of confidence.

He reacted by pulling up his shirt and burying his head in it — reflecting the general feeling in the team.

If Tuchel succeeds in quickly restoring the vim in the squad he will have rescued something from the season and put them on the right path at least.

Lampard will rebound from the disappointment and should he succeed elsewhere a return to Chelsea further down the line cannot be ruled out, after all Mourinho managed that.

The Portuguese now in charge of Tottenham Hotspur encapsulated nicely what a precarious world management is when asked to comment on Lampard’s dismissal.

“Of course I feel sorry. But this is the brutality of modern football,” said Mourinho.


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