Chelsea fans are learned over the years that they should expect the unexpected, but even the decision to sack Thomas Tuchel caught them off-guard. If reports are to be believed, the call made by the new Chelsea owners has been months in the making, even if they did give Tuchel the freedom to have a big say on transfers this summer. If Chelsea had not lost to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night, who knows what would have happened, but the long and the short of it is that the West Londoners are looking for a new head coach after just seven matches into the new season.
Unibet punters will be taking an interest in who becomes Tuchel’s replacement, but the overriding feeling is that the decision is a rash one. In 100 matches at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel won the Champions League, Club World Cup and reached three domestic cup finals, recording a total of 60 wins and just 16 defeats. The argument of the Chelsea board, each of them still regarded as newcomers in the world of football, not just at Chelsea, will be that the Blues were stagnating under Tuchel, but this is someone who was still going through a transitional period after seeing sanctions forced upon the club between March and May. Trusted defender Antonio Rudiger was a key departure, and Kalidou Koulibaly has simply not reached the same level, while many of the goals that Chelsea have conceded this season have been down to individual error.
The debate over his sacking will swing one way and another, but Todd Boehly and co have wasted no time in emulating their predecessors in making a needless change in the dugout. That also occurred after the 2008 Champions League with Avram Grant guiding the Blues to their first-ever appearance in the final. With Chelsea having gone from Jose Mourinho to Grant, the criticism was inevitable, but the former Israel manager was a John Terry penalty kick away from lifting the trophy instead of Manchester United. Roman Abramovich appointed former Brazil and Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari as his replacement, someone who had never managed in Europe and lasted just 36 matches, winning 20 of them.
Although signing Romelu Lukaku for a club-record fee at the time did not feel like a mistake, it soon proved to be once it became apparent that he was not suitable for Tuchel’s style of football. Having made the bold decision to freeze Tammy Abraham out of his plans and part ways with Olivier Giroud, Tuchel needed a new number nine and Lukaku had been in the form of his career at Inter Milan. However, those toying with the transfer – whether that be Tuchel or someone above his pay grade – should have been able to recognise the issues that may arise. A return of 15 goals from 44 appearances was hardly the disaster that it was made out to be, but it also did not justify the price-tag of the Belgium international.
When it comes to the transfers involving Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah, Chelsea made substantial profits on players who made eight Premier League starts between them during their respective stints at Stamford Bridge. Based on that, it is difficult to be overly critical of how Chelsea or the managers at the time handled each situation, but showing more patience could have led to Chelsea having world-class players in those positions for years, rather than months. The other side to that argument is that neither De Bruyne or Salah may not have flourished at Chelsea like they have at Manchester City and Liverpool, but the manner of their departures highlights that Chelsea’s ruthless streak in the boardroom is systematic of the club in the modern-day era, not necessarily the characteristics of the person who is making said decisions.