For now Thomas Tuchel is living “day by day” as Chelsea manager and the 48-year-old German is certainly in unchartered territory. No amount of pro license courses and expensive seminars can teach you to deal with the kind of issue that have been occupying Tuchel’s mind recently.
The former Paris Saint-Germain manager is coming out of the situation with his reputation enhanced at the moment, doing his best to answer questions that really should be greeted by those executives above him at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel has gone from answering questions about Romelu Lukaku’s form to his club being sanctioned, supporters’ embarrassing themselves with chants of support from Roman Abramovich and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After beating Norwich 3-1 last night Tuchel said he was “still happy” to be the club’s manager but no recent Chelsea boss could ever have envisaged having to say “as long as we have enough shirts and a bus to drive to the games we will be there and will compete hard. “
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Tuchel is right that this is now a job that is taken day by day and nobody quite knows what is going to happen to Chelsea over the next 24 hours, never mind the next couple of months.
The dramatic change in circumstances immediately led to question marks over Tuchel’s future and it’s certainly not the job he signed up for at the moment. If the sanctions continue for any length of time it is going to hurt Chelsea’s ability to remain competitive at the top of the Premier League.
That led to some quick links with Manchester United, who are in the market for a permanent manager this summer and, if available, Tuchel would almost certainly be a better candidate than Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag. He made an immediate impact with Chelsea and now has a successful Premier League experience.
But while there might be uncertainty around Tuchel’s long-term future, it might not help United in the short term. The club have always been keen to have a permanent appointment in place either by the end of the season or as soon as possible after, to allow a smoother transition over the summer and easier planning for what is going to be a crucial transfer window.
With Pochettino’s position at Paris St-Germain now uncertain after their Champions League exit, and Ten Hag easy enough to eject from Ajax if United wish to go for the Dutchman, both could be lined up before the end of May, allowing United’s focuses to be on the playing squad over the summer.
Tuchel is unlikely to make such a swift decision. He’s not going to walk out on Chelsea before the end of the season and his future is intertwined with how long the sanctions last and whether – and how quickly – a sale can go through.
The developments at Stamford Bridge might have given United another option, but it’s a complicated one. Pochettino and Ten Hag have long been leading the process for an appointment this summer but there’s little doubt Tuchel is a more attractive proposition.
The presence at Old Trafford of Ralf Rangnick, as a consultant from this summer and someone whose views on the identity over the next manager will be canvassed, could convince United to try and at least test the water with Tuchel.
Speaking on the day he was unveiled at United, Rangnick explained his admiration for and long relationship with Tuchel.
“He was my player at Ulm first, but only for six months because he then had to finish his career because of a knee injury,” he said.
“Two years later, when I was in Stuttgart, I asked him if he wanted to become the coach of our Under-15s team – and that was the start of his coaching career.
I later tried to lure him away from Augsburg when I was at Hoffenheim and I wanted him to become our Under-23 coach.
“But Christian Heidel at Mainz came in and three or four months later, he became coach of their first team.”
So Tuchel will have his admirers at United, but if the club remains determined to have the manager’s seat filled by the very start of this summer then the uncertainty at Chelsea is unlikely to be beneficial to them.
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