Chelsea decided to replace Frank Lampard with Thomas Tuchel in January 2021 and he guided them to a second Champions League trophy. Jason Pettigrove explains how the German has turned the Blues into a well-oiled winning machine.
It seems a lifetime ago that Frank Lampard was calling the shots at Stamford Bridge.
The former Blues legend had begun his tenure well enough, playing the sort of swashbuckling football that surely reminded older members of the Chelsea faithful of their famous 1970s squad, often termed the ‘Kings of the Kings Road.’
However, there was always a feeling that opposition sides could score against them because they were a little too porous at the back.
Eventually, and regrettably, Roman Abramovich wielded the axe as Lampard’s Achilles heel came back to bite him.
Step forward Thomas Tuchel, a German renowned for having his Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain teams playing on the front foot, but who would be expected to offer a vast improvement defensively.
Let’s be clear. Chelsea were not a bad side when he took over.
However, they did need the structure that Tuchel could bring, and a wonderful run towards the back end of the 20/21 season culminated in a deserved Champions League title victory.
He’d won over the locals well before then of course, but beating Pep Guardiola at his own game will remain one of his finest hours.
Thomas Tuchel. 👊 pic.twitter.com/vco6rsq5PH
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 25, 2021
Players that were pro-Lampard quickly responded to him. No mean feat when player loyalty is at stake, but his technical tweaks and hard-line management that led to consistent match-winning performances bred trust and respect.
Timo Werner was just one of Lampard’s signings who has become a changed man under Tuchel. The manager quickly identified that the best way to get the most out of him was to play him in his more natural habitat on the left side, rather than shoehorning him into a central role that isn’t and wasn’t his forte.
Fellow summer signing, Kai Havertz, was another quality exponent that Lampard just couldn’t seem to ever get the best out of, but that may have something to do with playing him right across the front line in trying to determine his best position.
There’s a theme developing here…
His formations may be recycled and changed, but Tuchel always has one eye on the patterns of play in-game and how he can read them in order to get the most out of the players he has on the pitch. Hence why we’ve also often seen some fairly harsh substitutions from the German.
Defensively, the west Londoners were a mess under Lampard, there’s no getting away from that.
Liverpool (5), Man City (6) and Man United (6) have now all conceded more goals in this season's Champions League than Chelsea did in their entire winning campaign last season (4).
— Sporting Index (@sportingindex) October 21, 2021
When they lost the ball, often they would look all at sea when trying to defend. Trying to counter-press became non-existent and effectively invited extra pressure on an already struggling backline.
Compare and contrast that to Tuchel’s defensive warriors. Only three goals conceded in the Premier League in their nine games in 2021/22 tells its own story.
What’s more, Chelsea can play keep ball with the best of them this season, knowing that it will take a season’s best performance from any opponent to beat them.
They are the complete package and the real deal, as their 7-0 thumping of Norwich City proved.
Solid at the back, tireless in midfield and incisive up front, only a fool would bet against them winning more silverware this season.
BetVictor have them at 11/4 for the Premier League and at 8/1 to retain the Champions League.