On the evening of November 29, 2021 Chelsea was awarded the best team of the year in a glittering Ballon D’or ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris. This success of Chelsa is one of the finest tales of football history that would be remembered by football fans for a long time. Thomas Tuchel is the unlikely name that would be credited for this historical footballing feat.
This season was full of ups and downs for Chelsea. Things got real low mid-season for the club when Roman Abramovich, the owner of the Chelsea football club, sacked Frank Lampard from the post of manager. It was a huge decision considering the fact that Frank Lampard is one of the greatest who played for Chelsea.
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Despite having a huge fan base in the club, Lampard was facing criticism for his tactical approaches to the game. Finally, in mid-January, Thomas Tuchel was appointed as the new manager of the club. Appointing a German as manager of an English football club was also a very surprising decision by Abramovich. It was also tough to bring a manager who was sacked by a club (PSG) from the post of manager. In the previous season, Tuchel was sacked from the post of manager after the Champions League’s final loss to Bayern Munich.
Generally, when a club changes its manager a rebuilding phase in the club begins. But Tuchel made his intention clear from the very beginning. There were no such talks like building slowly, he understood that Abramovich has high demand and he responded accordingly. The main focus was on the game-winning mentality of players. Tuchel promised the Chelsea fans that he will turn this team into a beast whom nobody wants to face and surprisingly it has not taken him long to make his promise come true. In the space of six months, he turned Chelsea from a disorganised team to a team that won the Champions League and Supercup. Chelsea defeated top teams of Europe like Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool, in the same period of time.
Zinedine Zidane before this season was considered the best manager in Europe. But in the match between Real Madrid and Chelsea, Zinedine Zidane, the manager of Real Madrid had no answer to Tuchel’s intelligent tactics. Chelsea was superior throughout the tie, attacking brilliantly and blunting Madrid’s attack with organised defending. It was clear long before Mason Mount’s late goal that Abramovich was right to appoint Thomas Tuchel as manager of his team.
When Tuchel took over, Chelsea had the same players but their mindset was different. They were ninth in the Premier League. At times under Lampard, Chelsea looked unable to defend right after losing the ball (known as counter-pressing). This indicated a lack of structure when having the ball. For example, if you lose possession while being too wide the opposition can quickly get away from you because there's too much distance to recover. Tuchel did little change in the formation from 3-3-4-1 to 3-4-3-1 and the remaining, as they say, is history.
A month after Tuchel’s induction, the opposition teams started to look at Chelsea in a way that they are playing against a team that always comes with a plan. Since Tuchel's first game at Chelsea, we have seen a huge improvement in structure, approach, and player’s individual efforts. Tuchel's changes took a team from mid-table to fourth in the league, an FA Cup final, Supercup victory, and most importantly Champions League glory.