Chelsea’s shock sacking of Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday morning felt like it came completely out of the blue, but it appears that it may have been bubbling for some time.
The German’s dismissal came against a backdrop of difficulties behind the scenes in Todd Boehly’s first months as owner, while there are claims from multiple sources that he had lost the dressing room.
There were claims he did not see eye to eye with the owners after disagreements over transfers since Todd Boehly took over from Roman Abramovich, while some Chelsea fans had become frustrated by the club’s start to the season under Tuchel.
But he also had plenty of admirers in a 19-month spell as Blues manager in which he had a 63 per cent win ratio in 100 games and led the club to only a second Champions League crown.
Some players will be disappointed by his exit – including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who only joined the club last week and was looking forward to linking up with the coach again. However, the sacking won’t be all bad news for others.
Following Graham Potter’s appointment as the new man in the Stamford Bridge dugout, Sportsmail identifies the winners and losers of Tuchel’s sacking.
Romelu Lukaku’s £97.5million return to Chelsea last season was nothing short of a disaster and was destined to fail once his relationship with Tuchel deteriorated midway through the season.
The striker’s controversial interview with Sky Italia in December 2021, in which he questioned Tuchel’s tactics and declared his desire to return to Inter Milan, unsurprisingly did not go down well.
Tuchel said Lukaku’s comments were ‘noise we don’t need’ and promptly dropped him for Chelsea’s next game against Liverpool.
Six months later, the Belgian international secured a loan move back to Inter after the German coach wrote him off as an expensive mistake.
Lukaku definitely had no future at Stamford Bridge under Tuchel and while that still could be the case, there may have been a wry smile raised by the striker yesterday.
Alongside Lukaku, Tuchel’s other major bust up during his time at Chelsea was with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte.
The pair clashed several times on the touchline during their teams’ fiery 2-2 draw in August, culminating in a heated exchange at full-time after Spurs had scored a 96th-minute equaliser.
As they went to shake hands, Tuchel held on to the grip of Conte as he believed that the Italian had not looked him in the eye. A melee ensued and both managers were sent off for their troubles.
Chelsea’s form has arguably never recovered since seeing victory snatched away from them by Spurs, with three defeats in five games since then before Tuchel was sacked. Conte may secretly feel he had a part to play.
‘Honestly, I think I don’t want to be disrespectful,’ the Italian said when asked about Tuchel’s exit. ‘I think when another club takes a decision I think it’s right don’t make a comment because you don’t know what happened.’
We suspect an off-the-record admission might have been a little different. It’s a shame we won’t get a round two this season though.
Ziyech and Pulisic
Whenever a change in manager occurs at any club, the slate is often wiped clean for players who had fallen out of favour under the previous boss.
Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic will hope that is the case at Stamford Bridge after struggling for opportunities through Tuchel’s reign.
The pair have started just one game each in the Premier League this season after scoring only 10 league goals between last term.
Both were highly-rated talents when Chelsea signed them – for a combined £96million – but they will feel their careers are being wasted sat on the bench.
Following the Blues’ 3-0 defeat to Leeds in August, Pulisic’s father fueled speculation about his son’s unhappiness by liking a tweet that read ‘Tuchel is a destroyer of players and of team dynamics’.
Of course Potter will still have a selection dilemma on his hands – with Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling and Aubameyang also competing for starting spots – but Ziyech and Pulisic will feel it is a chance to make a renewed claim for more minutes.
Chelsea did not find a replacement for Lukaku in the No 9 role until the final day of the transfer window when they signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona for £10million.
While Todd Boehly was in favour of the signing, it was undoubtedly driven by Tuchel – who had a strong relationship with the striker from their time together at Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang, who scored 79 goals in two seasons under Tuchel in Germany, expressed his delight at linking up with his former coach again.
‘It will be an honour and a joy again [to work with Tuchel], we had some good times in Dortmund together so I am really happy to play for him again,’ the 33-year-old said. ‘We will achieve some big things, I am sure of this and I will try to help the team.’
Awkward. Less than a week later, after Aubameyang had played just 59 Chelsea minutes for Tuchel, the German was gone. The striker would be forgiven for feeling a little disheartened.
The main reason he joined Chelsea – quitting Barcelona after just seven months – was to work with Tuchel and he will now be unsure if Potter has him in his plans.
Tuchel’s sacking came on the 100th day of Todd Boehly’s ownership and Chelsea’s statement read that the American believed it was ‘the right time’ to make the decision.
While Boehly may feel this is his opportunity to stamp his authority on the club, his reputation has arguably taken a hit in the eyes of the wider public.
Under Roman Abramovich, Chelsea became known for hiring and firing managers at will. A change in ownership was a chance to scrap that tag, but Boehly has only continued the trend.
It is hard to understand why he backed Tuchel with a record-breaking £271million spend in the transfer window only to sack him less than a week after deadline day.
The German remained popular with the majority of Chelsea’s supporters, so Boehly has stuck his neck on the line and left himself open to criticism if this change does not go well.
Boehly has kept the same coach at the LA Dodgers – Dave Roberts – since 2016, so it is not as though he has a historic ruthless streak. But Wednesday’s decision sets the tone for another turbulent ownership at Stamford Bridge.
Perhaps the first player who the new manager will speak to will be captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who signed a new two-year contract at Chelsea this summer.
But perhaps the 33-year-old, who was keen on a move to Barcelona, will be regretting that decision after seeing Tuchel leave.
One of the key reasons why Chelsea were so keen to retain Azpilicueta was because he was a perfect fit for Tuchel’s 3-4-3 system. He is able to play both as the right centre-back or as a wing-back.
There is no guarantee that Potter will employ the same tactics. He switched between a back three and a back four throughout his time at Brighton.
Put Azpilicueta in a back four and it is highly likely that his lack of pace will be exposed. Other options such as Reece James at right-back and Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly or even Marc Cucurella in the middle would surely be preferred.
Azpilicueta’s playing time was being reduced by Tuchel anyway and he has started just two of the first six Premier League games of this season. The new boss may phase him out even more.