LONDON – Chelsea’s ruthlessness has consumed many managers but Thomas Tuchel embraced it from day one and that attitude led them to a Champions League final after beating Real Madrid 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday .
He allegedly replaced Frank Lampard 99 days ago to help form the dearly acquired parts of that squad into a cohesive team, and few could claim he hasn’t done that now by playing the best of Kai Havertz’s football in a Chelsea shirt pulled out and enabled N ‘. Golo Kante and Jorginho stand out, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger look reborn. Even Timo Werner met.
The key to this remarkable change, however, was Tuchel’s stance and pragmatism in a profession that many before him either misunderstood or believed could change. This is not a criticism of Lampard, although given his 13-year career at Stamford Bridge and the circumstances in which he assumed command, he could reasonably have expected to be spared the quick, unworthy exit that was the fate of many predecessors .
Many have talked about building dynasties, bucking the trend by lasting more than a season or two, and believed they could warm owner Roman Abramovich’s cold heart and earn a longer stay in West London. Not Tuchel. The 47-year-old, who was fired from Paris Saint-Germain on Christmas Eve, realizes that the game has little mood. Still, he took the Chelsea job in the mid-season and became the club’s 13th coach in the Abramovich era. In his first week in charge, he admitted that signing a relatively short 18-month contract was no cause for concern.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN + (US only)
– ESPN + Viewers Guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more
“I want to be very honest with you, at first it was a problem, I was a bit like ‘Oh why 18 months?'” Tuchel said at the time. “And after a minute, I was like, ‘what does it change?’ What’s changing? If you give me four and a half years, do it [could] fire me anyway.
“So where can I be sure I’ll be there for four and a half years? You can’t. That’s the truth on this level. I’ve decided not to worry too much, to be brave enough for this adventure because it was absolutely clear that I wanted to do it and I didn’t want to miss the chance. “
How the players took this message. It fits perfectly with Chelsea in the Abramovich era: win now because you might be gone tomorrow. And instead of dreading the pressure, why not accept the expectation?
Havertz and Werner are in many ways the personification of this transformation in the beginning.
They started the season as expensive imports, Havertz £ 71m from Bayer Leverkusen and Werner £ 49m from RB Leipzig, shoulders slumped under the weight of these price tags. But Havertz’s dramatically improved form in the Premier League got him off to a start, and he stood out in his biggest game to date. He pulled Real apart with Werner, who may still lack clinical touch in front of goal, but his connection play was essential to Chelsea’s success in both legs.
At the end of a nifty move involving Werner and Kante, which is certainly back on the level that puts him in conversation with the best all-round midfielders in the world, Havertz shot a cheeky shot over Thibaut Courtois and onto the crossbar. Werner was there to nod the ball home from two meters to score the easiest and greatest goal of his Chelsea career.
Karim Benzema tested Edouard Mendy twice in the first half while Madrid were oddly passive in the second half. Eden Hazard, who returned to Chelsea after leaving Spain in July 2019, was consistently peripheral.
Instead, Chelsea got into an uproar and missed an almost ridiculous number of opportunities. Havertz hit the bar, Thiago Silva went over, Mason Mount knocked off a shot from close range. Havertz missed a duel before Werner played in Kante, who could only play with the side foot directly at Courtois.
Finally said the pressure. Substitute Christian Pulisic showed patience and composure to pick Mount out of line and the England international turned the ball home to spark cheering scenes.
Chelsea certainly can’t be that wasteful in the final against Manchester City on May 29 in Istanbul, but that concern is for another day. Right now it’s a moment to think about how far you’ve come.
Tuchel has led 24 games and recorded 16 wins with 18 goals conceded. Two weeks after the FA Cup final, Tuchel will contest a major European showcase project. Notably, he is the third Chelsea manager to arrive in the mid-season and lead them to a Champions League final that same year.
Neither Roberto di Matteo nor Avram Grant owned Tuchel’s family tree, but all three recognized the power of the present. Tuchel found the right mix to give a notoriously strong-willed squad enough freedom while applying enough discipline and tactical innovation to motivate a group that was a bit ragged under Lampard.
“I felt from day one that it was a great club,” said Tuchel, who has lived in temporary accommodation away from his family since arriving. “I felt very supported from day one. I am very grateful to be on the sidelines of this team. Heads have never been lowered, they have always remained positive and have no regrets. The work is not done yet. We are now in two finals. ” and the sacrifice I personally made was worth it from day one. “