Christmas in Thomas Tuchel’s household would have been a rather somber affair after PSG decided to sack him in late December. The German had only recently made PSG champions of France and had come within a whisker of winning the Champions League, only for a clinical Bayern Munich to deny him the honor.
Looking back, that was probably the final nail in Tuchel’s PSG coffin. Any further slip ups in the league and the hierarchy would relieve him of his duties.
That’s exactly what happened in late 2020. Tuchel paid the price for not winning the Champions League as well as falling out with PSG’s sporting director Leonardo Araújo.
In reality, the 47-year-old had been a dead man walking after that disappointing night on the 23rd of August at the Estádio da Luz, despite being able to boast a record of 96 wins in 127 games in charge of the club. In addition to that, the German managed 2.35 points per game in his 912 days in charge in Paris, as mentioned, it did seem a harsh sacking but that’s the price a manager pays for falling foul of the infamous internal politics at the Parc des Princes.
A blessing in disguise
As a downcast Tuchel was getting ready to depart Charles de Gaulle Airport before New Year’s Eve, you can be sure that one of the thousands of supportive messages he received from family, friends, and supporters over this time was that ‘when one door closes, a window opens.’
Naturally, it’s always quite hard to take this sentiment on board during times when one feels like they have failed, but it so often turns out to be true. Perhaps Tuchel jotted down some New Year’s resolutions in the departure lounge in the hope that he wouldn’t be out of work for long. The stark reality was that the 47-year-old’s fate was no longer in his own hands.
Across the Channel, and in London’s capital, a high-flying Frank Lampard would see his team lose 3-1 to Arsenal on the same day as Tuchel’s sacking, prompting a dramatic tail-off in form for Chelsea that would culminate in the Stamford Bridge legend being sacked a month later.
Tuchel’s window had opened and perhaps it would be a happy new year after all.
Fast forward to late spring in 2021 and the German found himself in a familiar setting, a glittering Gazprom Champions League final, as Chelsea’s manager. Only, this time, he had to beat a rampant Manchester City, which astonishingly his team did after Tuchel produced one of the all-time great tactical masterclasses that the football world has seen.
The former PSG boss had an answer for everything that Pep Guardiola threw at him and, at the end of 90 minutes, there could be no doubt about who deserved to win.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 30, 2021
Thomas wants to do what no man has done before at Chelsea
After the celebrations in Portugal had come to an end and a blurry-eyed Chelsea flew back to London with the Champions League trophy, Tuchel met with club owner Roman Abramovich. It was during this meeting that the German told the Russian billionaire that he wanted to build an empire at Stamford Bridge. Now, many managers in the Chelsea hot seat have wanted the same thing over the years but few have been given the time to do so.
In fact, none of them have been afforded the luxury since Abramovich took over in 2003. It all makes you think that it is particularly wishful thinking on behalf of Tuchel to state that he wants to build an empire. Indeed, winning the Champions League will do very little to keep you in the dugout at Stamford Bridge. Just ask Roberto Di Matteo, who only lasted six months after doing so.
🗣 “It was the best moment for a first meeting, or the worst because from now on it can only get worse.” 🤣
Thomas Tuchel reveals he met Roman Abramovich on the pitch last night for the first time pic.twitter.com/jTv4giRseO
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 30, 2021
But then again, Tuchel has proved himself to be different in so many ways. Incredibly, he has beaten the man who has built one of the best Premier League legacies, Guardiola, in all of their encounters in the English top-flight. The last league victory was a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in East Manchester in early May. This suggests that the German has found a way to bring down Guardiola’s City dynasty and begin building Chelsea’s one.
The odds are against Tuchel
However, interestingly, as of the 31st of May, the Blues are still priced at outside odds of 11/2 by Betway to win the 2021/2022 Premier League title, whilst City remain favorites at 4/ 6. Basically, not everyone is expecting the revolution that Tuchel is forecasting in southwest London, but the signs are there that Tuchel has Guardiola’s number.
Thomas Tuchel took over at Chelsea four months ago.
The team were 9th in the Premier League.
He steered them into the top four.
He reached the FA Cup Final.
He won the #UCLFinal
Instant impact 🏆 pic.twitter.com/v8de2HKSEM
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 29, 2021
Whatever ends up happening, few things in football will compare to this rivalry going forward. Indeed, forget the jaw-dropping blockbuster El Clasico or anything else in world football, it is the power struggle at the top of the Premier League over the next 12 months that will decide who sits at the summit of European football over the next decade.
Yes, Tuchel has a dream, but he’s not an unrealistic dreamer. Far from it. That German pragmatism and his superior tactical acumen are here to stay in the Premier League. Chelsea could be on the brink of a long period of domination in the English top flight.