Tuchel prospered at PSG - can he succeed at Stamford Bridge?

By Sports Desk January 26, 2021

A day after club great Frank Lampard was shown the door by Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel has been confirmed as the new head coach at Stamford Bridge.

Having departed Paris Saint-Germain in late December, the highly regarded tactician will now continue his coaching career in England.  

Former Borussia Dortmund boss Tuchel won two straight Ligue 1 titles and steered PSG to the Champions League final last season, yet ownership decided the time was right for a change in the French capital.

Mauricio Pochettino's status as a free agent arguably persuaded PSG to act fast and the boot is now on the other foot for Tuchel, whose availability has allowed him to step straight in at Stamford Bridge.

FROM PARIS TO LONDON

There was little Christmas cheer for Tuchel, who left PSG with a record similar to his predecessor in the job - Unai Emery. Both recorded an average of 2.37 points per game in Ligue 1 - tied for the best in club history.  

The German tops the list when it comes to top-flight win rate at 75.6 per cent (62 wins from 82 games), though that number dips slightly when taking into consideration all competitions, albeit only down to 74.8 per cent (Emery's was higher, at 76.3 per cent).

Like Lampard, Tuchel lost his job on the back of a convincing home win. PSG thrashed Strasbourg 4-0 in his final game and, while that result on December 23 left them third in the table, they were sitting just a point behind leaders Lyon. 

Only Laurent Blanc (173 games) was in the PSG post for longer than Tuchel in the time since Qatar Sports Investments purchased the French club. 

Tuchel averaged 2.67 goals per game in Ligue 1.

It helps to have a squad that contains stars such as Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, of course, though he was the first PSG boss to make it beyond the quarter-final stage of the Champions League, the one trophy that has so far eluded the owners.

An unconvincing start this term was enough to lead to change. Tuchel became the first PSG head coach to be fired during a season despite sitting in the top three of Ligue 1 since Antoine Kombouare, who lost his job during the 2011-12 campaign.


FAMILIARITY, PLUS A CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

Roman Abramovich made clear he has the "utmost respect" for Lampard in the statement released to confirm his departure. Still, there was no doubt left over the reason for making the change. 

"We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club," the statement read from Chelsea.

"However, recent results and performances have not met the club's expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement." 

Chelsea have a home game against Wolves on Wednesday and Tuchel will get up and running by taking training on the eve of the match. He takes over a team in ninth place, though just five points off fourth in what is a congested league table. 

It will be hoped the new man can get the best out of compatriots Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, two of Chelsea's big-money recruits in the previous window who have yet to fire. 

However, Tuchel will also need to tighten things up at the back, particularly on the road. At PSG, his teams conceded 0.81 goals per game, while it should be noted they leaked just six in Champions League action in 2019-20.

Since the start of the previous season, only Newcastle (54) have conceded more away goals in the Premier League than Chelsea (50).

They kept a clean sheet in just 17 per cent of their away games under Lampard; among those to have taken charge of 10 or more such fixtures in the competition, this is the lowest percentage of any Chelsea boss. 

Tuchel will, of course, be able to call upon his old PSG captain Thiago Silva in trying to mastermind a defensive revival.

There will also be an expectancy to improve the team's fortunes against their major rivals, too. 

Since August 2019, Chelsea have won just 15 points against fellow 'big six' sides, a joint-low tally alongside Arsenal. During that run, they have scored 17 goals and conceded 28 times. 

At least Tuchel understands the demands of working for owners with lofty expectations. There is still time to turn this season around but, like his most recent Stamford Bridge predecessors, he will be expected to produce instant results.

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    Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he is "surprised" at the reaction to Manchester United not being awarded a penalty in Sunday's scoreless Premier League draw.

    United were left aggrieved following the denial of a first-half spot-kick as Chelsea and the visiting Red Devils produced a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

    In the first half, referee Stuart Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

    Attwell stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, much to the frustration of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and full-back Luke Shaw.

    Afterwards, Tuchel – just the second manager to see his side keep a clean sheet in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers with Swansea City in 2011-12 – told reporters: "For me it was no penalty. I was surprised and I'm still surprised [at the reaction].

    "I didn't see it live where the penalty should come from, and when we checked on the pictures we have I couldn't see any incident that should qualify as a penalty. Until now I don't know why it should be a penalty."

    It was another 0-0 affair between Chelsea and United – both matches in a league season failing to yield goals for just the second time after 1921-22.

    Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard – the Blues in the midst of a 10-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

    Tuchel's Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, one point adrift of the top four, six points behind second-placed United and 18 adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City through 26 rounds.

    "It would have been a big result. We tried everything to win, to be prepared for no other intention but to win," Tuchel said. "We are in the middle of a battle to the top four.

    "We have closed the gap quickly and now is the moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days.

    "I feel the team is very competitive and difficult to play against. We will be able to win games. We are still in the battle and that's the good news."

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    Winner of last year's U.S. PGA Championship, Morikawa used a three-under-par 69 to seal victory at the star-studded World Golf Championships event in Florida ahead of Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel on Sunday.

    Morikawa holed four birdies and just one bogey to finish 18 under for his fourth PGA Tour crown – the most by any player currently aged under 25.

    He also joins Tiger Woods as the only player to win a major championship and WGC event before turning 25.

    Further to that feat, Morikawa is the seventh player to claim four or more PGA Tour tournaments – including a major – under the age of 25, following in the footsteps of Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jerry Pate.

    The overnight leader by two strokes, Morikawa recovered from a slow start after bogeying his second hole of the final round – the 24-year-old American birdieing three of five holes before the turn as he ended the day without dropping another shot.

    Norwegian star Hovland mounted a serious title charge following a five-under par 67, but he was unable to stop Morikawa.

    Hovland finished tied for second alongside four-time major champion Koepka (70) and Horschel (70) at The Concession Golf Club.

    McIlroy's final-round 71 saw the former world number one and four-time major winner slip down into a tie for sixth, six strokes adrift of Morikawa.

    Defending champion Patrick Reed (72) ended the co-sanctioned PGA and European Tour tournament a shot further back.

    Justin Thomas (71) earned a share of 15th at eight under, a stroke better off than U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (69).

    It was a forgettable finish for world number one Dustin Johnson, who closed proceedings with a six-over-par 78.

    The two-time tournament winner plummeted 12 positions to T54 at five over the card.

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    City made it 20 successive wins in all competitions on Saturday, as they edged past West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League thanks to goals from defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones.

    Aguero made just his fourth start of the season in total – and his first since October – with the City great, who is out of contract at the end of 2020-21, having struggled with injuries through the course of the campaign.

    The 32-year-old failed to have an attempt and created just one chance before he was taken off in the 61st minute, having had 32 touches – less than any other outfield player to have started the game for City.

    Guardiola, however, insisted Aguero will need time to pick up his sharpness, though the striker's minutes will have to be managed precisely. 

    "Sergio has been out for more than a year, he played cup games but got injured again, then it was surgery," Guardiola told a news conference.

    "With Sergio, at this part of this season, having that special talent and special quality is going to help.

    "So it's good that he played 60 minutes, that's good for his legs. In the next games, we might need him for 10, 15 minutes or from the beginning. 

    "It's not easy for him but he just has to play better and better and he can help us in the sense of his ability."

    Guardiola concedes Aguero wants to play more, but reiterated that he has to balance his squad, namechecking Eric Garcia, whose stay at City is set to end at the culmination of the campaign.

    Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the 20-year-old, who ended last season as the club's first-choice centre-back alongside Aymeric Laporte.

    Garcia has made just three league appearances this season, and last featured for City in an FA Cup win over Swansea City in early February.

    "There are other players who want to play too, so I know Sergio is so important for us. What he has done for this club – he has scored the most important goal for us," Guardiola continued.

    "We want to help him and see him good but, at the same time, Raheem [Sterling] didn't start, Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva] didn't. So I try to handle it so everyone can be involved.

    "You cannot imagine how I feel about Eric Garcia, he's like a son. Last season, during lockdown he was the best defender that we had.

    "He'd never make a mistake like Ruben, John and Aymeric have not this season. He was the reason we qualified for the Champions League, clubs like Bayern and Barcelona wanted him and that's not because he was an average player.

    "In the last two games he was not selected, that's why it's difficult to put all of the players in. Players have to be patient and at the end all you judge is the performance. If the players are performing well they will have more chance to play again."

    Asked if sentiment will come into play with Aguero's game time as his time at City potentially draws to a close, Guardiola replied: "From day one, my message here is what happened before is over – we learn from this and onto the next one.

    "It's not just for Sergio, it's for everyone. I think about who is best in this position, who is in the best condition. If I am fair to one player, I am unfair to another one, that is the difficulty.

    "Now it's for him to prepare if we need him, at the end there will be games that are tough and difficult and we will need a goal! Who is the best guy to do that – it's him.

    "Every player needs time, especially him but everyone needs time. We have trophies to fight for, soon we'll be going to Goodison Park for a quarter-final, the second leg of the Champions League. 

    "Many nice things to fight for and everyone needs to be ready."

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