Thomas Tuchel reflects Jose Mourinho


About a year ago, Jose Mourinho was Thomas Tuchel.

The incumbent manager had had poor results and appeared to have misplaced his ability to get better performance out of his squad. His discharge felt a little harsh given the timeliness of better days. But he was still outside. Time for the next man.

That was Mourinho, who replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur in November 2019. The Portuguese did better and pushed his side up despite serious injuries to the key players. That season, an early indictment took Spurs first for four game days through December 16. Since then, they have only won two out of nine, including three straight losses, falling to seventh place in a tightly packed table. Now it’s Mourinho whose time may be running out.

He lost the third game in a row to Tuchel in Chelsea’s third game. On January 26th, Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard, who apparently no longer had the honor of bringing a rebuilt, understaffed team into the Champions League last season.

Tuchel, on the other hand, was fired from Paris Saint-Germain on December 29, just four months after leading the club to the first Champions League final in its history – a narrow 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich.

Tuchel was replaced by… Pochettino. And on Thursday he met his two-time Chelsea predecessor in Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho was in Thomas Tuchel’s position not long ago, a well-known new manager at a London club. But love is fleeting at this level. (Thomas Tuchel REUTERS / Neil Hall)

Chelsea beat Spurs 1-0 and won closer than it should have been as the Blues dominated much of the game. On the other hand, Spurs put two of their seven shots on the frame and had better chances – including a nice curler from Erik Lamela, a header from Carlos Vinicius that just missed the mark and a late look for Heung-min Son. Chelsea, meanwhile, only had one of 17 attempts at the goal. It was such a game.

The goal came from a penalty from Jorginho after a grounded Eric Dier inexplicably knocked Timo Werner down in his own box:

But Chelsea were responsible for much of the game. In the pouring rain, it set the pace, controlled the ball, moved confidently, and quickly erased Spur’s weak counterattacks – again hampered by the absence of Harry Kane. If Spurs had a game plan at all, it was hard to spot one as he creaked and moaned through the movements until he finally put pressure on Chelsea and threatened to score a point late.

This late phase clouded an impressive first hour for Chelsea. It was evident again that Tuchel’s impact was immediate and the contrast to Lampard’s last games is remarkable. Lampard has never quite figured out how to build an effective defense while keeping the attack going and vice versa. And towards the end, his team was rash on both ends. Tuchel’s attack may have failed in north London, but the defense conceded a third straight goal.

If there is any way to measure managers head-to-head, Tuchel felt he had beaten Mourinho well, especially as his team was circling Spurs for most of the game. And so Tuchel is now the exciting new manager, the shiny one. Especially now that the infatuation with Jürgen Klopp has subsided in the season in Liverpool. Pep Guardiola stays SUI generisOf course, its rampant Manchester City threatens to pull away from the rest of the league.

Tuchel seems to understand exactly the same lesson Mourinho learned over and over again. This love is fleeting. That the manager’s job is now strictly short-term. Klopp is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League at five and is making a move – only Burnley’s Sean Dyche has been in his job longer, although this is only his fifth season in the top division. And even Klopp is a few bad months away from worrying about his job, regardless of the fact that he reached two Champions League finals, won one and won the club’s first league title in 30 years.

If Tuchel has any purpose, he will know that Chelsea and his fans won’t be delighted with him for long. After a tricky schedule to start his new job, he is given a break from playing against Sheffield United, Newcastle and Southampton. But then there are games against Atletico Madrid, the leading La Liga, in the Champions League, Manchester United, Everton, Leeds United and Liverpool.

Lose a few of these and things will be very different. People and experts will talk about Tuchel in new and harder ways. Perhaps Mourinho will have turned things around by then. Or maybe someone else is managing Spurs. The present never lasts long. However, the future is too distant to plan. The honeymoon is short and the divorces quick.

Thomas Tuchel is the fashionable new manager of Chelsea. Soon he won’t be and Roman Abramovich will appoint the 18th manager of his 17-year-old owner of the club.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a columnist at Emox News and a lecturer in sports communications at Marist College. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

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