Chelsea have sacked manager Thomas Tuchel after a poor start to the 2022-23 season culminated in Tuesday’s woeful defeat in their Champions League group-stage opener at Dinamo Zagreb, but the announcement of the firing still came as a shock.
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The Blues have lost three of their past five games — an underwhelming run that includes Premier League upsets against Leeds United and Southampton.
The 1-0 defeat against Dinamo in Croatia was Tuchel’s 100th game in charge of Chelsea since being appointed as head coach in January 2021.
Just 123 days later, the German conquered the Champions League before adding the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup to the haul shortly thereafter. However, he didn’t have it all his own way in finals, losing in back-to-back FA Cup showpieces to Leicester City and Liverpool while also losing to Jurgen Klopp;s side in the Carabao Cup.
He now departs Chelsea less than one week after the club’s new owners broke the Premier League record for spending in a single transfer window by splashing over £270 million on Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Tuchel won 60 of the games he oversaw at Chelsea, drawing 24 and losing 16 times. His overall win percentage of 60% holds up pretty well against the Blues’ previous three managers, though of course he remains the only one among them to have won the biggest prize during his time in West London.
That said, one particularly ominous stat lays bare the breakdown of his team’s defensive resoluteness in the second half of his tenure, with Chelsea conceding just 24 goals during the German’s first 50 games as manager only to ship more double that amount (53) in the latter half.
His sacking at this juncture perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a shock given that Tuchel tends not to last more than two years at any major club — just ask Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain, where his tenures both ended before he came close to completing a third campaign.
Obviously guiding the club to Champions League glory in 2020-21 will have to go down as Tuchel’s finest moment at Chelsea, beating fellow Premier League rivals Manchester City in the final to lift the trophy for the first time since 2011-12.
Other lesser European titles followed as well as a smattering of domestic finals the following season, but respective league finishes of fourth and third under the German tactician will no doubt be looked upon as relatively disappointing.
Social media reaction to Tuchel’s early-season departure has been mixed with some fans questioning the sense of allowing the transfer window to come and go before beginning the process of hiring a new head coach.
There were even wry whispers that new co-owner Todd Boehly — who appointed himself as the club’s director of football for the summer transfer window — might already have the perfect candidate lined up.
Some imagined scenes from the post-Dinamo debrief between Tuchel and Boehly on Wednesday morning akin to his running touchline battle with Conte during last month’s 2-2 draw with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
For better or worse, that clash with Conte will go down as one of the most memorable images of his time at Chelsea, and perhaps that was the moment it all started to go wrong.
There were also chuckles over the brevity of the former Dortmund boss’s reunion with Aubameyang, which lasted a full 59 minutes on Tuesday evening.
Oh well, they’ll always have Zagreb.
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