As per usual, rumors of a Chelsea manager’s demise are being greatly exaggerated following a relatively rough run of fixtures. Thomas Tuchel and his team have had a rough go of things lately, but to suggest he is on the hot seat—that is, any chair warmer than the one regularly sitting beneath a Blues boss ever since Roman Abramovich’s takeover—would make you misinformed. The German guided his side through a brutal winter with relative success. Although there were dropped points, Chelsea has managed to stay comfortably inside the top four and reach the Carabao Cup final, even without a number of key players out wide.
Tuchel celebrated one year with the Blues on January 26 during the club’s mini-break ahead of the upcoming FA Cup and Club World Cup contests. Despite the team being away on vacation right now, news broke on Wednesday morning that there are some forwards who are growing increasingly frustrated with the manager and contemplating their futures with the club. Happy anniversary, Thomas! This isn’t a massive surprise given the circumstances, but it does give the Chelsea board a chance to draw a line in the sand and back its manager publicly.
Tension amongst Thomas Tuchel and a few of his forwards gives the Chelsea board an opportunity to draw a line in the sand as to where it stands
It goes without saying that this is normal at almost every football club. There are only 11 spots on a football pitch at any given time, which means those on the bench and left out of the squad entirely are bound to be a bit disappointed. Blow that situation up and apply it to the first six months of an entire season and players are going to naturally get incredibly frustrated. There’s not a thing Tuchel can do to change that aside from giving everyone minutes, which then develops chemistry issues. This leads to sloppy play, which is also not tolerated, especially when players are getting limited looks as things stand. It’s seemingly a lose-lose for a manager in charge of the reigning Champions League winners. The unfortunate reality is not every moment can be spent singing ‘kumbaya’ in professional football, athletes have emotions too.
If it happens at every football club then why does it matter? I’m so glad you asked. There is a history of player revolts at Chelsea. In fact, the latest player revolt is one of the main reasons it’s Tuchel on the touchline at Stamford Bridge right now as opposed to Frank Lampard. The board has typically moved in favor of the money makers, the players themselves. However, their backing of Tuchel in the Romelu Lukaku situation shows things could be changing around SW6. The Blues’ hierarchy could draw a line in the sand with its handling of this situation.
There is still a lot of uncertainty in west London. In fairness, there will continue to be until Abramovich’s trusted advisors put an end to this chop and change style of handling the manager’s job. The only thing we do know is that this is not going to be a saga that plays out quickly.
The season still has a few months left and both sides need to do their part to woo the board. If the Blues go on to win a handful of trophies (the Carabao Cup and Club World Cup are musts at this point) and finish inside the top four, all while making a deep Champions League run, there is little doubt Tuchel will stick around for the 2022/23 campaign. Similarly, the best way for the forwards to display their importance is to score a lot of goals. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place simply because scoring usually translates to winning, which in turn looks good on the manager.
This isn’t to say there is a civil war going on in the dressing room either. We haven’t reached those heights yet. As Matt Law was quick to point out in his latest appearance on the London Is Blue Podcast though, Tuchel is managing a squad with players brought in by six different managers. It’s not possible to instill a long-term philosophy and build a lasting culture given those circumstances. Some players are inevitably going to disagree with the manager’s decisions and that’s OK. There is still hope that this doesn’t escalate into a mini-revolution, but history would suggest it will. Therefore, something’s got to give. This is where the board comes into play.
Marina Granovskaia and the Chelsea hierarchy need to decide who they want to back. They can side with Tuchel, as they have done in recent months, and choose to rebuild the team in his favor. This would be a huge first step for the Blues as they try to change the culture for the first time since Abramovich took over. The board’s other option is to favor some big money forwards who are currently unhappy. This would suggest Tuchel could be on his way out in the not-so-distant future (after the decision is made, obviously, not now) if the results and dressing room morale do not pick up. For the Chelsea faithful, this would be worst case scenario.
The board has no obligation to keep Tuchel, but the German has shown he is more than capable of delivering sustained success if given the opportunity to thrive. That’s what the Blues’ owner has been searching for this entire time. The 48-year-old is the man to lead the club forward, whether or not he will be given the opportunity remains to be seen. So far so good. The tension between the forwards struggling for minutes and Tuchel may seem negative in the short-term, but it’ll force the board to reveal its hand, so it cannot be considered a negative in the grand scheme of things.
Should the club back the players or the manager? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!