In the brief time that we’ve had to start getting to know new Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel, one of the early defining traits that has emerged is his rather surprising and affable self-awareness. Of course, things are very easy at the moment — even if the team are actually still stuck in mid-table — and the mood and the attitudes might shift once the honeymoon period is over (e.g. from “Happy One” to “Betrayed One”; seen it before!) but his willingness to discuss just about any and every topic openly and honestly is quite refreshing.
And that approach extends even to lines of questioning that one could easily construe as (undue) criticism. But instead of getting defensive when things like his previous record of butting heads with club directors is brought up, Tuchel is looking at himself with a fair bit of clarity, advocating for a shift in his own mentality and maybe a dialing down of the hotheadedness a bit.
“It’s pure passion—also some principles. Your word is your word and I trust the word of a man.
“What I like now and why I am very positive is that I am self-aware that this is a thing to improve, to be also more relaxed and not to be too stubborn in my beliefs. The structure that I find here is very clear and a very easy structure. It is easy to understand there are not many people who make the decisions and I can absolutely live with that.
“When things are clear it is on me now as the head coach to adapt and to make my opinion clear and to give the analysis of what I see, what I feel and where I also think that we can still improve and I hope this comes along in the right way.”
In theory, that sounds great. The real world can be drastically different of course, especially at a club where conflict between the business and footballing sides of the operation is a defining feature. Every coach at every club will test these limits, but the line at Chelsea appears very thin and easily transgressible indeed, usually with heavy and ultimately fatal (job-wise) repercussions.
But Tuchel claims that these cards were also laid open on the table during his negotiations with the Board for all involved to see, allowing us to enter into this relationship with clear expectations and no false pretenses.
“[There have been in the past] difficulties between certain people on the board and me. It came up, I have to admit, in the transfer periods where sometimes the wishes and ideas and from coaches and CEOs and sporting directors do not really match. This can happen sometimes.
“There were no words from Roman Abramovich so far. I spoke to Marina [Granovskaia] and to Petr Čech and this was first of all confidential and then very trustful. Very honest and very clear. I have the feeling that this structure works for me absolutely to bring out the best. There was no moment of hesitation.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Goal
Does that sound too good to be true? Probably. The term expectancy of any football manager (at the vast majority of clubs) is shocking short, and Tuchel’s 18-month initial contract doesn’t exactly scream dynasty. But he’s also called this an opportunity too good to pass up, and from what we’ve seen (and especially heard) so far, we just might be in for some good times.
“Maybe nobody expects me to be here long, maybe because of the history of coaches and Chelsea. Maybe I stay long. If I don’t stay long, I don’t stay long. I cannot lose my focus right now.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Guardian
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose. Right?