Chelsea has had Thomas Tuchel as their manager for just over a month now, spanning 10 matches. The Blues are undefeated under the German with a whopping seven wins and three draws. Most notable is the defensive solidarity that has only allowed itself to be scored on twice in that period (and only once by the opposition). What has been learned about Tuchel’s Chelsea in the first 10 matches?
1. Clarity of communication on the macro level
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Tuchel’s tenure thus far is that he and the board are very clear on where they stand with one another. Tuchel was sacked at Paris Saint-Germain in part because of complaints referring to himself as a “minister of sport” more than he was a coach. That could easily be said about Chelsea too but it seems as though a key part of negotiations was understanding exactly what is required from all parties.
With an 18 month contract, Tuchel knows what his targets are. This half season, it is to get top four or at least make a solid go for it. Next season its silverware. Anything less and he is surely out the door.
That same clarity wasn’t truly present with Frank Lampard. Was a title challenge expected this year after the summer transfer window? Was he to build this year and get silverware next season? Ask 100 fans and get 100 answers because there was no clarity from the club. With Tuchel, much of that was laid out early to prevent issues later. Tuchel knows what he has to do to continue, and he can have no complaints if he fails to meet the bar he helped set.
2. Harsh, risky, and almost nonsensical substitutes
The most notable substitute Tuchel has made has been pulling Callum Hudson-Odoi off 30 minutes after subbing him on. He claimed he wasn’t seeing what he wanted from the youngster. Many thought that it was a wake up call for the squad and, based on evidence of the Atletico Madrid performance, that may have some merit.
Except Hudson-Odoi was doing fine in that match. That has only highlighted others who have done much worse yet continued to stay on the pitch. Hakim Ziyech was terrible against Manchester United yet stayed on until late. Christian Pulisic has often been a sub with Tuchel but he’s almost always looked worse than Hudson-Odoi did in those 30 minutes.
Not to mention Tammy Abraham can’t seem to earn more than one half regardless of how he plays. He’s been a half time sub at least twice under Tuchel in matches where the striker, whoever it is, is getting zero service. One could say Tuchel is setting a high level of demands for his players but that seems to vary radically player to player.
There are other moments where he has subbed off an attacker for a midfielder to go into a 3-5-2 shape, often without strikers. That sounds like a shore them up type of change but a 3-5-2 is more easily pressured than the 3-4-3. The switch often invites more pressure while gaining one more body on the block. The defensive record has checked out in that sense but it is an unnecessary risk.
All of this isn’t even to mention naming every left back to the squad at the expense of Billy Gilmour. Maybe Gilmour never gets a chance to see the pitch from the bench, but there is a greater chance he’ll be able to get minutes to develop than needing all three of Ben Chilwell, Emerson, and Marcos Alonso in one match. Not to mention, if Gilmour isn’t on the bench at all, he can’t play.
These sub decisions make little sense and they very much point to a level of favoritism more than anything truly tactical. It is hard to complain too much while the results are coming in, but if Chelsea has a down turn, these are the things that are going to become thorns in Tuchel’s side.