From his speech one can say that the management took Tuchel by surprise, talking about his sack. The manager was informed by Chelsea’s new owners that he was being sacked just 16 months after leading the club to only their second Champions League title.
Though it was not likely going to happen, perhaps the new era upholds the tradition of the former owner Roman Abramovic. If so then it was just expected that after a big summer transfer spending and no improvement in the team the manager had to exit.
But the ex-Chelsea manager seemed shocked and taken unawares by the decision to sack him. “I didn’t see it coming. Obviously, I was in the wrong movie.” Tuchel said after losing his UEFA opener, what he could’ve reserved for the next morning.
Only three weeks ago, Tuchel had revealed he was in talks over extending his contract, enthusing: “You know how glad I am to be here and how much I like it.”
But look a little closer and the cracks at Stamford Bridge had begun to show long before the disastrous result in Zagreb, with a leaky defense, unhappy forwards, unwanted departures and tactical tinkering resulting in Todd Boehly and his consortium marking 100 days in charge by executing their most controversial decision to date.
Big summer spending with no spark of improvement in the team
Chelsea made headlines this summer as the highest-spending club in Europe, with £278.4m spent on 10 new players.
Todd Boehly was primarily responsible for handling business in his role as an interim sporting director but Tuchel’s fingerprints could also be found on Chelsea’s dealings, particularly the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a 33-year-old who was released by Arsenal less than a year ago.
While asking Tuchel to mold his new-look squad into an effective unit just days after the transfer window closed was unrealistic, the early signs weren’t promising.
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Chelsea ’22 summer transfer big-spending
- Raheem Sterling – £47.5m
- Kalidou Koulibaly – £34m
- Omari Hutchinson – free
- Gabriel Slonina – £12m
- Carney Chukwuemeka – £20m
- Marc Cucurella – £63m
- Cesare Casadei – £16.6m
- Wesley Fofana – £75m
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – £10.3m
- Denis Zakaria – loan
Kalidou Koulibaly has had his moments since signing from Napoli for £34m – most notably his goal against Tottenham on his home debut – but he has also struggled at times, being sent off in the 3-0 hammering at Leeds and making an error that led to Dinamo’s winner on Tuesday.
Wesley Fofana, Koulibaly’s new £75m partner in defense, was also culpable for the goal in Zagreb, while the decision to start Aubameyang in Croatia was bizarre.
Chelsea’s 2022/23 results
- Everton 0-1 Chelsea
- Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham
- Leeds 3-0 Chelsea
- Chelsea 2-1 Leicester
- Southampton 2-1 Chelsea
- Chelsea 2-1 West Ham
- Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea
Tuchel may trust Aubameyang thanks to their days together at Borussia Dortmund but the former Barcelona forward had barely trained with his new team-mates, had just eight minutes of first-team football under his belt this season and was recovering from a broken jaw suffered when his home was robbed just days before.
Despite early results, Chelsea’s new owners believe they had a very good window and their belief that a new head coach will bring more out of the players played a role in their decision to move on from Tuchel.
What Happened to the Dominant Defense style
Tuchel’s verdict after the 2-1 defeat at Southampton late last month was “Soft.” He couldn’t believe that his defensive performance had dipped after the summer transfer.
It’s not hard to see why the German was so frustrated with his side. Defensive dominance had been Chelsea’s hallmark from the moment Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January 2021, with the Blues going on to concede just 24 goals in his first 50 matches in charge.
However, matches 51-100 were a very different story. Tuchel brought up his century of games in the Blues’ dugout away to Dinamo, whose winning goal was the 53rd strike Chelsea had conceded in their last 50 matches.
While allowing opponents to score an average of fewer than a goal every other game was probably not sustainable, the speed at which the defense crumbled during the second half of Tuchel’s reign was startling.
For comparison, Chelsea’s average of 1.06 goals conceded per game across the final 50 matches of Tuchel’s time in charge was more than Manchester City (0.92) and Liverpool (0.78) conceded over the same period and was also greater than the number Tottenham (0.95) have let in since Antonio Conte took charge.
Tuchel could point to the departures of Antonio Rudiger – a key pillar of the defense during the head coach’s time in charge – and Andreas Christensen this summer as reasons why time was needed to rebuild the Blues’ backline, but the worrying trend of defensive instability dated back to before their exits.
Boardroom departures led to the Downfall
In Tuchel’s defense, the departures of key members of his squad haven’t been the only exits he has had to deal with this summer.
Influential director Marina Granovskaia and chairperson Bruce Buck left the club following the takeover. Petr Cech, the legendary former goalkeeper turned technical and performance advisor also moved on in what was a blow to Tuchel.
“It’s no secret that I loved to work with Petr. It’s a big change not to have him,” said the head coach.
Cech often acted as a buffer between the boardroom and Tuchel. However, the new owners are said to be very hands-on and developed the feeling that Tuchel – now required to work more closely with those above him – preferred to spend his time with players and coaches.
Navigating the changing scenery above him as well as trying to get his revamped squad to gel was a lot to ask of Tuchel and he was ultimately unable to do so, with his increasingly difficult relationship with the owners understood to be a key factor in their decision to sack him.