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Chelsea pressure cooker will be familiar to new boss Thomas Tuchel

Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
·4 min read

Thomas Tuchel failed to deliver on the ambitions of mega-rich owners at Paris St Germain and faces similarly high expectations under the ruthless Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

The 47-year-old was dismissed by PSG in late December last year, and had been a dead man walking for days before the capital club finally confirmed his exit.

It could all have been very different if he had delivered the Champions League success PSG crave, and he came close before a German team – Bayern Munich – sank his ambitions at the final hurdle last August.

Despite winning Ligue 1 titles in both of his full seasons in Paris, four defeats in the 2020-21 campaign compounded the Champions League near-miss and he became the fifth coach dispensed with since Qatar Sports Investments took control at the Parc des Princes in 2011.

He exits one revolving door and heads straight into another, replacing club favourite Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge.

So what can Chelsea fans expect of the new boss?

As a Pep Guardiola acolyte, the emphasis is on possession and trying to win the ball back high up the pitch when it is lost.

But he is not a slave to a system and has always shown a willingness to adapt – either to the players available to him or the opponents facing him.

Like Jurgen Klopp, pictured, Tuchel moved from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund
Like Jurgen Klopp, pictured, Tuchel moved from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund (Adam Davy/PA)

Born in the Bavarian town of Krumbach on August 29, 1973, his playing career was effectively over in 1998 when he suffered a knee injury playing for SSV Ulm.

He followed Ulm’s coach, the highly-respected Ralf Rangnick, to Stuttgart, initially in a bid to resurrect his playing career in the club’s reserves. When it became clear that was going nowhere fast he was given the chance to coach the club’s youth teams, working up from the under-14s to the under-19s.

He moved to Augsburg as under-19 coach, coincidentally the club where his own youth career had begun, before moving on to Jurgen Klopp’s old club Mainz in the same capacity.

He took over the first team at Mainz after they had been promoted to the Bundesliga, still aged just 36.

Tuchel won plaudits for shaping his team intellectually as well as physically, presenting them with unusual challenges in training such as an odd-shaped pitch so that any obstacles that presented themselves in a match seemed simple by comparison. In short, he likes his players to be capable of solving problems for themselves.

Mainz’s best finish under Tuchel was a creditable fifth and when Klopp left Borussia Dortmund to take over at Liverpool, Tuchel seemed the natural fit.

He did not do away with the high-energy approach of Klopp but instead tweaked it, and built the team around midfield metronome Julian Weigl.

Tuchel oversees a Dortmund training session ahead of a Champions League match against Liverpool
Tuchel oversees a Dortmund training session ahead of a Champions League match against Liverpool (Nick Potts/PA)

He was unable to break the dominance of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and the 2017 DFB-Pokal (German Cup) was the only title he won at Dortmund.

Various theories were put forward for his exit, including that he and the club’s chief executive had fallen out over the decision to go ahead with a Champions League tie against Monaco less than 24 hours after three explosions close to the team’s bus in April 2017.

He arrived in Paris in the springtime of 2018. Winning Ligue 1 is, of course, the bare minimum expected at a PSG side with vastly superior resources to any other club in the division, and he achieved back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020 – but all PSG bosses are judged by European performance.

He survived a last-16 elimination to Manchester United in his first season and last summer the holy grail was in touching distance against Bayern, only for Parisian Kingsley Coman to dash French hopes.

Lampard lost his job after results failed to match the most ambitious recruitment drive of any club in the world in 2020.

Tuchel will aim to make two of those expensive recruits – fellow Germans Timo Werner and Kai Havertz – the key cornerstones of his project in SW6.