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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Jealous Manchester United can dream as Thomas Tuchel shows he is the complete package at Chelsea

  Having conducted his post-match television interviews, Thomas Tuchel started to walk back towards the tunnel at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy...


Having conducted his post-match television interviews, Thomas Tuchel started to walk back towards the tunnel at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. But the urge to engage with the travelling Chelsea supporters, who were singing his name, quickly proved too much for the German coach.

First came a passionate punch into the air. Tuchel then threw his arms up four times in quick succession. Another punch into the air followed. It was a rare display of pure uninhibited emotion. "Brilliant," the Chelsea head coach exclaimed when he spoke to BT Sport after his side's Champions League triumph over Lille.

"So nice so many fans are here, [that they] were able to travel. It feels brilliant."

The unexpected success Chelsea enjoyed during Tuchel's first year at Stamford Bridge guaranteed the German a place in the hearts of supporters. Yet the off-field events of the past month have only strengthened the bond between fans and coach. Tuchel has handled every situation thrown at him masterfully.

He was empathetic and understanding when faced with questions about Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine. He was authoritative when denouncing Roman Abramovich's chants at Burnley.

 And he was completely honest about how the club was being impacted after Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government. "Tuchel’s leadership," started Joe Cole in the build-up to yesterday's win.

"we’ve been through such turbulent times and we’ve seen such poor examples of leadership throughout our society. Then you see a football manager stepping up like that, talking like that, doing that and it is just a breath of fresh air."

Results on the pitch have been as impressive as Tuchel's manner off it. Chelsea have won their last five matches in all competitions and haven't been beaten in 90 minutes in more than two months. Of course, the players deserve credit for that too amid the uncertainty but it's Tuchel that is steering the ship through the choppiest of waters.

"I think Chelsea are so clear as a club about what they demand of every employee and every player: play your role, play to the limit, and take responsibility," the 48-year-old said on Wednesday. "This is what Chelsea is about. It sharpens your mentality and brings out the best of you.

"It's normal to do it on a daily basis and because this mentality is installed over years and years, decades, it plays a big part as to why we can stay focused and produce results as we do at the moment when things are uncertain and unstable around us."

Tuchel has spoken many times this season about how content he is at Chelsea. The working environment – prior to the recent upheaval – was everything he craved as a coach. He was able to focus on football and be the coach he wanted to be. There was no requirement to focus on superfluous tasks.

"Chelsea, for me, is a perfect fit. I love to be here and I love everything about the club. Hopefully, it continues"

the Blues head coach said at the beginning of the month. That love affair is not something Tuchel has enjoyed at previous clubs. At Borussia Dortmund, for instance, he was viewed as cold and aloof. Jan-Henrik Gruszecki, a notable fan and club historian, told ESPN in 2017:

"Tuchel never identified with the club." At Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, Tuchel was never content. “A club like PSG has many influences that go far beyond the interests of the team. I just love football and, in a club like here, it's not always about football,"

 he said in December 2020 shortly before being sacked. Chelsea and their supporters have enjoyed the very best of Tuchel. He has opened his heart and forged an emotional connection with the club, something he was unable to do at Dortmund. And he relished the autonomy he was never given at PSG.

Now what Chelsea must do is keep Tuchel at Stamford Bridge post-Abramovich and ensure he isn't lured away by the faltering Manchester United, who suddenly appear intent on trying to lure him away this summer. Achieve that and he may well go down as the Blues' greatest head coach.

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