Whoever Takes Over Chelsea Must Make Keeping Thomas Tuchel Their No.1 Priority

At an incredibly complex time for the Blues, the German manager has kept the club together
12:15, 18 Mar 2022

Thomas Tuchel is in a unique position compared to any of his predecessors to have worked for modern-day Chelsea.

He has the safest job in the world - a privilege not enjoyed by any of the previous ten managers fired or forced out by ruthless Russian owner Roman Abramovich. 

Put simply, there is nobody at Chelsea who can sack him at the moment.

With Abramovich now an outcast in football instead of a benign, billionaire benefactor, the Stamford Bridge bunker room is empty and the entire system of control is swirling loosely in the wind like the latest wayward shot from Romelu Lukaku 

Instead, the world of football waits to see which of the many interested parties wins the bidding war to buy a club which won 19 major trophies under Abramovich’s successful but brutal reign. 

In the next week or so the power vacuum will be filled and Tuchel will report to a new board of directors. 

In most cases a takeover means curtains for the incumbent manager. Steve Bruce became the latest to learn that uncomfortable truth when the Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund bought Newcastle.

But Chelsea is a special case. Rather, Tuchel is a special case.

Whichever gaggle of uber-wealthy investors, whether US sports franchise owners or hedge fund tycoons take over, they will be living in the shadow of the first team coach. 

And that has never happened before at this club. 

In the last three weeks, Tuchel has positioned himself far better than Lukaku and Timo Wener ever could. He has held Chelsea together when it looked like falling to pieces. 

And the new owners will have to remember that.

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When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and long-standing suspicions of Abramovich’s close ties to the country’s leader Vladimir Putin became intolerable, Chelsea had just beaten Lille 2-0 at home in the Champions League.

The feel good factor of that thumping first leg win evaporated in an instant as politics superseded soccer and the only London club to win the European Cup went into meltdown.

War, death, humanitarian crises; Tuchel took questions on it all and while not a paid politician has outdone many professional diplomats with his honesty and grounded approach to a situation that has worried the whole world.

Just this week, sitting in a strip-lit media suite at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, the questions in the post match should have been about Chelsea looking comfy in the defence of their Champions League crown.

He had just won the return leg against French champions Lille with ease. 

Instead, the 6ft 3in German was probed on his employers’ latest PR own goal - the demand for the forthcoming FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors.

A request so outrageous that even brazen Chelsea, who thought sticking two fingers up at the rest of English football to form a breakaway league was a cracking idea, backtracked within hours.

In most situations of this nature, the boss would toe the party line, fearful of his job.

But Tuchel couldn’t sit on the fence. Watching Eddie Howe squirm facing tricky questions about Newcastle’s controversial owners is not his style.

Instead, he could not wait to distance himself from the botched idea of banning fans from a game to suit Chelsea’s agenda.

Even though the crazy idea came from one of his deluded superiors, Tuchel went for the jugular and said ‘it wasn’t mine or the players’ idea and we are very happy it has been dropped’.

Far from splitting the camp, it has united a club. The fans, who protested against that super league idea in the streets last spring, backed him to the hilt and Chelsea’s directors had to swallow.

In terms of leadership it has not been seen since the heydays of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Not even Jose Mourinho in his pomp at Chelsea was more powerful than Abramovich.

Tuchel can be outspoken and is happy to drift off page discussing geo-politics at a high level while ramming home a point in a humorous tone about driving the team bus to games if it saves crisis-ravaged Chelsea a few quid. 

And since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has lost only one of six matches - the pulsating sudden death penalty shootout against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup Final.

Whether the new stakeholders at Chelsea are slick, media-groomed sports businessmen from America, a lofty London investment firm or Tory boy superfan MP Seb Coe and his pals, Tuchel will hold the real power for some time.  

That will be a real sea change for Chelsea and a step towards more trophies and becoming a more palatable club with him at the wheel.

Chelsea are 12/1 to win the Champions League with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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