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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Manchester United's embarrassing Thomas Tuchel failure offers Chelsea their own Ten Hag lesson

  The fact the Thomas Tuchel to Manchester United rumour basically ignited through an opinion piece from an ex-Liverpool player probably ...


The fact the Thomas Tuchel to Manchester United rumour basically ignited through an opinion piece from an ex-Liverpool player probably does enough to detail how much weight is given to certain pundits in the national conversation over football. Soon though, that piece flew into the social media sphere and spat out several more thought pieces on how United could capitalise on Chelsea's crisis.

Then came the flurry of ex-United players in the media to add more fuel, questions to Tuchel directly in Chelsea's latest press conference. There was a backlash and counter-backlash until we reached a point this week where United effectively put their tail between their legs and walked back home like an embarrassed school child.

It has been briefed in Manchester that Tuchel is not on the shortlist to replace current interim Ralf Rangnick at the end of this season, which is an interesting way of saying he didn't want to join us in the first place. Erik Ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino appear the clear frontrunners, with Tuchel restating his happiness in his current role.

"I love working in the Premier League. I love to be in England and feel the tradition and love for football. It's an amazing place to be," said Thomas Tuchel earlier this month. "Chelsea is, from my point of view, the perfect fit. I love to be here and love everything about the club. I hope it continues."

As Chelsea's takeover process begins and the hope of new investment, there is very little reason for Tuchel to vacate a role he is adored in. He is one of Europe's best coaches in a position that, by his own words, fill his needs. His handling of the last month has been extraordinary. Offering statesmen like leadership in one of Chelsea's most turbulent periods.

Whilst at United, the Rangnick revolution has been as effective as a water pistol, managing to dampen some of the fires caused by Ole Gunnar Solskjær but still offering up the same failings of the previous four coaches post-Sir Alex Ferguson.

If you wanted a better demonstration of how confusing things are at Old Trafford, look no further than their own YouTube channel, posting a panel discussion over "Who Will Be Manchester United's Next Manager".

Given how many leaks have flowed out of the Old Trafford dressing room in recent months, leading to Rangnick's authority being undermined, this type of honesty came across as out of place rather than refreshing. Maybe a signal of how uncertain United are now over their future.

Ten Hag and Pochettino are not radically different coaches, but given the number of sharp turns that the club has taken from David Moyes to Louis Van Gaal to Jose Mourinho, then to Solskjær and Rangnick, it is easy to see why things appear so fractured at the club.

This teaches a good lesson to Chelsea , who have been guilty of similarly radical changes in the style of head coach they have appointed. The three before Tuchel could not have illustrated this point better. Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard. The intense winner, the dogmatic professor and the rookie.

Supporters have praised Tuchel for inhabiting many different shades of previous coaches that have been successful at Stamford Bridge. The charisma of Jose Mourinho, the tactical impact of Conte, the player harmony under Carlo Ancelotti. These are things that have made this 14-month marriage so seamless and comfortable.

The new owners should prioritise securing the future of Tuchel. That is clear. What should also be taken from United's never- ending transition phase is using Tuchel as a template for future coaches.

It is very difficult to find anyone in the game like him, but it is not unfair to suggest there are things about his approach which can be linked to his peers. A belief in counter-pressing, the use of data, tactical flexibility, and emotional intelligence to deal with an expensively assembled dressing room.

The next chapter of Chelsea should attempt to define a clearer vision for the type of coach the club aspires to appoint, rather than jumping radically from one style to the next, which can have its drawbacks, especially if done in a very short period of time.

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