Chelsea recently announced that their first team manager, Thomas Tuchel, has been relieved of his duties following a tumultuous start to the season. The change in leadership comes at a strange time after backing Tuchel with large sums of money for transfers during the summer, when pre-season preparations were underway to map out the club’s strategic vision for the next twelve months. Following the German’s departure, Chelsea is vulnerable in a transition state, and it’s expected to have a cascading impact on the competition between the top-six clubs in England fighting for Champions League qualification.
Todd Boehly oversaw sizable investment in the squad this summer, totally to around £270m – Chelsea’s highest ever transfer spend in a window. It’s been reported that Tuchel had an important say in the targets acquired, making it even more surprising how little time he had to incorporate these new faces into a winning squad. Wesley Fofana signed from Leicester City for £70m on a seven-year deal, but Tuchel only had a week to work with him.
Firing an elite manager after only six Premier League matches seems like a naive decision by the first-time football club owners. If there was one thing going to help Chelsea for a smooth transition to new ownership, it was that an established, world-class manager was in place. Now that security is gone.
It wasn’t long ago that Tuchel was in the running to fill the managerial vacancies at Barcelona and Manchester United. The German manager has a proven track record across top European clubs, accruing success in Germany, France, and England. He’s proven his worth at Chelsea, winning the grandest trophy in club football; the Champions League. Less than a year ago, Tuchel won the IFFHS Men’s World’s Best Club Coach, beating out the likes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Hansi Flick, then at Bayern Munich. During the German’s season and a half reign at the London club, he guided Chelsea to six finals, winning three of them. Simply put, Tuchel is one of the best coaches in the world and isn’t an easy figure to improve upon.
This morning it was reported that Graham Potter has agreed to join Chelsea. The Englishman has had a successful tenure at Brighton & Hove Albion, implementing entertaining football that is competitive against any side in the league. However, managing Brighton where a midtable finish is deemed a good season, is far different than the expectations at Chelsea Football Club. The demands are higher, there are far more games, and Potter is inexperienced at coaching at this level. He also doesn’t have the luxury of a pre-season period to implement his ideas on the squad.
It may take time for Potter to adapt at Chelsea, especially since the footballing department at the club is still under construction following the departures of Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech in the wake of the ownership takeover.
These revelations at Chelsea will likely impact the top four race this season which is currently wide open. There is no guarantee Chelsea will finish in a Champions League place, which was highly likely when Tuchel was at the helm. Liverpool has regressed, Tottenham and Arsenal are stronger, and Manchester United are finding their feet under Erik Ten Hag. The bigger clubs around England will be watching Chelsea with intrigue, hoping the early season instability will provide them an opportunity to capitalize on the London club’s vulnerability.
As for Manchester United fans, many would agree that a successful season would be making the top four in the Premier League under our new manager. The Europa League needs to be prioritized as well because that would be another opportunity to gain Champions League qualification. In recent memory, United tend to finish a spot above or below Chelsea in the table. Now Manchester United need to seize this initiative while their rivals are weakened, to increase the point gap between the two clubs. This could prove crucial by the end of the season. If Manchester United can cement their position in the top four before the World Cup break midseason, it would set them up well to finish the job in the first half of 2023.
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