I have jokingly been irritating my Chelsea mega-fan brother for several weeks about Frank Lampard and even jokingly predicted that Thomas Tuchel would make too much sense to become the Chelsea manager. Neither of us could have expected that Frank Lampard would get sacked Monday and that Thomas Tuchel would get announced as Chelsea manager a day later!
It’s absurd given the circumstances that Frank Lampard was able to guide Chelsea to a respectable 4th placed position in the Premier League and the FA Cup final last season after making zero signings, but get fired due to a dip in form. A form dip that most likely could have been recovered thanks to abilities that exist within the club with the new signings of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, & Thiago Silva. No doubt that the aforementioned German wonder duo will flourish under new German management but a lot can be said about both players given their uneven and frankly (pun not intended) atrocious form in the first half of the season.
Thomas Tuchel is a more exciting topic of discussion given that he too was unfairly sacked by PSG, despite having completely different circumstances to Frank Lampard. PSG was flourishing under the German manager and had even reached the Champions League final last year. It feels almost like some karmic retribution that only a few weeks earlier when Pochettino replaced Tuchel at PSG that he would get to do the same thing to Frank Lampard at Chelsea. The Merry-Go round of football is something that some people can find quite deplorable but now is the time to explain why Thomas Tuchel makes a lot of sense for Chelsea and why fans should be excited.
4-3-3 & (4-2-3-1)
At most clubs that Tuchel has managed, it seems very clear that he likes using the 4-3-3 formation, which suits Chelsea perfectly as this is a formation that matches what they’re already used to under Frank Lampard. However, Tuchel is a master tactician who is able to come up with other formations to counter-act several teams and to surprise teams as we’ve seen with both Dortmund and PSG. In his former teams, he’s used 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1, which happens to be some of the experimental formations Chelsea have also used.
Style of Play
It is very clear that Tuchel wants to adapt three main things with his team: play from the back and then have the midfielders run the show, attack-minded full-backs, and Gegenpressing which was popularised by fellow compatriot, Jurgen Klopp. A pressuring tactic with the intention of winning the ball back as soon as you lose it.
Tuchel has lucked out as he has his commanding ball-playing centre-back, Thiago Silva, to rely on to get (excuse the terrible pun) the ball rolling into midfield which will allow greater space for all players around. It also makes it difficult for the opposition to mark the CDMs which will consist of Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kanté. This will open up more space for them than they are used to under Lampard. Tuchels midfielders have taken advantage of this to great effect at both Dortmund (with Ilkay Gundogan and Gonzalo Castro) and PSG (with Marco Veratti and Leandro Paredes, who really should have been rewarded with an assist for this amazing pass (LINK)).
This will be a continuation and evolution of what we’ve seen Reece James and Ben Chilwell do. They had pretty much free reign to help out their wingers and make overlapping runs and cross an insane amount of balls into the box or get in on the scoresheet. The only thing of note, however, is that Tuchel will be able to refine it and get the most of out his wingers and full-backs. We saw what crazy destruction he could do at both Dortmund and PSG, as both teams were so fun to watch because it allowed everyone more space to get involved in the attack. Something that we’ve seen too little of with Lampard as the wingers often get too isolated out wide. The choice of making them attacking will help the players attack more centrally as seen with Neymar and Di Maria at PSG which got these two in advanced positions through the middle to help their striker.
If there is one place I felt Frank Lampard failed, it’s certainly in their press game and defense. Thomas Tuchel is notoriously known for how relentless he is in making sure every single club he’s been at gets this right, even if he doesn’t have the right players for it. Essentially what this means is to rapidly win possession closer towards the opponent’s goal to try and create chances and score. This also means to try and win possession during goal-kicks and usually makes it very difficult for opponents to pass the ball centrally. This can obviously ruin the rhythm of the opposition and make their players pass the ball out wide where Tuchel’s fullbacks and two CDMS are waiting to pounce and help recover the ball back.
Tuchel has a lot of admiration for Pep Guardiola and like the former Barca and Bayern Munich manager, Chelsea’s new manager loves to rotate his squad a lot. Rarely do players get to play almost each and every game like Bruno Fernandes with Manchester United or Harry Kane with Tottenham.
In his last full season as a manager with PSG in 2018/19, he gave a total of 16 outfield players more than 20 starts in the league, with Julian Draxler being the most utilized outfield player with 31 starts. The group of 16 players doesn’t even include names like Neymar (who struggled with injuries), Paredes, or Adrien Rabiot, who were also big contributors to the team. With Dortmund in 15/16, it was a similar spread of starts, with a core of 14 outfield players starting between 19 and 31 matches.
With a variety of tactics and sometimes going with 3 at the back, expect a lot more players to get involved than under Lampard. Considering Chelsea’s massive squad depth, there are plenty of good players to choose from. There are at least 17 players at Chelsea who played a good part either this or last season and a lot of these players will get their chance under Tuchel.
If you look at his track record, it suggests that Chelsea is exactly the right club for Tuchel to make himself a household name. The German manager has been quite successful at every club thanks to his relentless effort to incorporate his tactics and principles at the team he’s managing and helping youngsters flourish.
Some have speculated that Tuchel’s appointment would hurt Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, but I’d like to make a prediction: they will play even better under the guidance of Tuchel. The 47-year-old manager helped make both Ousmane Dembélé and Kylian Mbappé into the established stars they are today, on top of bringing forth players like Raphael Guerreiro, Leandro Paredes, and Chelsea’s own Christian Pulisic. His knack for developing talented players means I can’t wait to see how well Pulisic along with the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz progress under Thomas Tuchel!