Chelsea fires Frank Lampard and hires Thomas Tuchel
So Frank Lampard is on the road as a Chelsea manager. And while the timing may seem strange – less than 24 hours before Lampard was fired on Monday, the Blues made it to the FA Cup quarter-finals – the decision to replace him, ostensibly with Thomas Tuchel, wasn’t. Not after the London club won just three of their last 10 Premier League games.
That’s how it goes at the highest level of sport, especially at Chelsea. Things are changing fast: Lampard didn’t flirt with first place until December, when almost everyone but the manager himself openly speculated that the Blues might even be a legitimate title contender after hitting 300 million new recruits during the summer transfer window Dollars had added a squad that had finished in a pleasantly surprising fourth place in Lampard’s debut season.
Tuchel, of course, knows all about the culture of modern gaming, which you’ve been doing for me lately. The German brought Paris Saint-Germain to his first Champions League final last August and is considered one of the best young bankers in the world. That didn’t stop PSG from firing him last month, however, and replacing him with Mauricio Pochettino, another well-recognized -and-comer who did the same with Tottenham Hotspur in 2019, before getting pink panties too just a few months later.
The availability of Tuchel was apparently too enticing for famed impatient Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to do without it. Lampard’s status as a club icon – he was captain of the blues for the only Champions League title in 2012 – may have cost him a few extra weeks. It was undoubtedly why Abramovich publicly commented on the news, something the Russian billionaire never did After one of the 15 previous changes in leadership since he took control of the club nearly two decades ago.
“This has been a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the greatest respect for him,” Abramovich said as part of his statement.
Now it’s Tuchel’s turn in the hottest place in Prem. The 47-year-old is an ideal choice for Chelsea at this moment for several reasons, not least because of his familiarity with the American star Christian Pulisic, whom he coached at Borussia Dortmund.
“For Christian, the advantage of having Tuchel as the coach is that he knows him very well,” said Gregg Berhalter, national coach for the US men, on Monday during a Zoom call with reporters to a question from Emox News. “He comes with a really good understanding of what Christian can do and his abilities. I think that’s important. He has also seen how Christian has developed and improved over the course of his time in Dortmund. For Christian, it’s familiarity with the training, his coaching style, his communication style and that is all helpful. There is no uncomfortable time in which you get to know the trainer. “
While the 21-year-old established himself as a consistent starter in his sophomore season after a few early fights under Lampard, he has yet to rediscover the light-out form that made him one of the most dangerous attackers in the Premier League at the end of the campaign 2019-20. Tuchel gave the then 16-year-old Pulisic his professional debut in Dortmund. There is already a certain amount of trust there, and the new coach will, at least early on, rely heavily on the front man of the US men’s national team on and off the field – a responsibility Pulisic will no doubt take seriously.
Abramovich hopes that Tuchel can get a lot more out of his valued compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who have found it difficult to adapt to the breakneck pace and physicality of the English game since they left the Bundesliga. (Werner, who has only scored four goals in 19 league games, missed a penalty on Sunday.)
Tuchel is only five years older than Lampard, but has the experience his predecessor obviously lacked when he got the Chelsea job after a single season at the top of second-rate Derby County. He knows how to deal with egos after coaching Neymar, Ángel Di María, Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and current blues center-back Thiago Silva in France. And he knows he has to win, and soon.
This is not a long term appointment. There’s no such thing at Chelsea. After all, Abramovich fired José Mourinho twice, the last time in 2015, not long after Mourinho won his third Premier League crown with the club. Tuchel’s honeymoon will end too, perhaps in an ugly way – he left both Dortmund and Paris after two years not because his teams imploded, but because he grappled with his bosses.
But in the world we live in now, Lampard’s dismissal and Tuchel’s attitude make perfect sense. And in what is perhaps the most open Premier League season of all time, a few wins can bring Chelsea back into the mix – if not for cutlery, then at least for one of four Champions League places. The mandate for Tuchel is clear. His clock is already ticking.
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