A video has been making the rounds on Chelsea social media where Julien Laurens and former Chelsea player Eniola Aluko discuss whether top four is needed for Thomas Tuchel. Laurens argued that Tuchel can’t be judged on three months’ worth of work after joining midseason. Aluko argued for Tuchel having plenty of time and more or less asked what is the point of sacking Frank Lampard and brining Tuchel in if top four wasn’t the measuring stick.
One of the most interesting things about this video is how much it has twisted the camps around. The side of the fan base that wanted Frank Lampard gone is now largely advocating for patience for Tuchel and they believe he hasn’t had enough time to be fairly judged. The side of the fan base upset with Lampard’s sacking believes there is plenty of time to judge Tuchel and if top four isn’t achieved, well then what was the point of the switch if the end result is the same?
It’s the old cop out answer but both sides are right but also judging the movie for its first scene as well. Tuchel’s only been in charge for five games and while, yes, top four is the goal, it is important what the overall piece of work looks like come the end of the season.
First of all, it is somewhat unfair to judge Tuchel on this half season. He came in midseason and it is incredibly hard to build something with a team built for another manager (to be honest, managers) and pick them up after a sustained down turn. Not to mention the fatigue that has set in not just at Chelsea but league wide. Bar a catastrophe, Tuchel simply isn’t starting in a solid enough position to be fairly judged on half a season.
Except, of course, it is exactly half a season. If Lampard can be judged after 19 league games this year, then why can’t Tuchel? Yes, Lampard had the team for 18 months but he wasn’t sacked for things that happened last season. He was sacked for December to January.
Tuchel has less time overall, but he’s got the same amount of matches. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, Chelsea is now only one point off of top four. Are fans seriously saying they would be okay with missing top four when the Blues are just a point off with 15 games to go? That seems a bit ridiculous.
But the honest truth lies somewhere in the middle. Chelsea could miss out on top four this season and Tuchel could continue. What matters is how that miss happens. If Chelsea actually looks like they are building towards something but still miss out, that makes the mood look far different than if they are narrowly scrapping out victories with 70 percent plus possession, few shots on targets, and none of the attackers scoring. If Chelsea misses out but are regularly running riot on teams and getting unlucky, that’s a different conversation.
It’s the same argument about Maurizio Sarri and Lampard’s full seasons. Both achieved the same thing in the league, but most fans got more enjoyment out of Lampard than Sarri. At the end of the day, this is an entertainment business and if fans are entertained they will keep coming back for more. The wins have to be there too but fans would rather stick with a team that looks good that struggles to win than a team that bores and struggles to win.
And there is always a sense that Tuchel’s 18 month contract is full of break moments. One year left on a contract would hardly be prohibitive for this Chelsea board. They’d have to have clear reasons why they wouldn’t give Tuchel a full season and there would likely have to be someone more appealing available, but don’t doubt that the board wouldn’t wield the ax if they had reason to. Tuchel hasn’t given them that reason yet, but 15 games is a long ways to go yet. After all, it only took eight league games from Lampard to go from hero to sacked.
Is it entirely fair to judge Tuchel coming in midseason? No, but it’s also not unrealistic to say top four is a very fair measuring stick for him. Overall, how things look process and performance wise might matter more but that doesn’t mean the rest of the goals don’t matter.