Thomas Tuchel has enjoyed an unbeaten start to his life at Chelsea, seeing his side climb closer to the top four.. But what are the expectations for the recently arrived German – and, more importantly, can he achieve them?
What does Thomas Tuchel need to achieve at Chelsea?
The concept of ‘needing to achieve’ at Chelsea Football Club is unmatched by any club around the world. With the ruthless nature of manager merry-go-round proven to be in full swing still, there is a constant watch on the requisitions a manager may be under.
Take Frank Lampard last season, for example. In his unique circumstances, the forecast was pessimistic. Top four would be an incredible achievement, as would any runs in the cups. To many people’s surprise, he surpassed milestones but he failed to aspire to those set for the second season.
If you look further back, the requirements were even stricter. The club have told most managers that they must mount a title challenge immediately. Harsh as it may seem, it is this ruthless view which has garnered so much success.
What then, can be expected of a coach who has arrived halfway through an abnormally turbulent season? At many other clubs, there would be extremely low expectations. Unfortunately for Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea is not like many other clubs. He will have to show his ability very promptly, albeit with some caveats due to the timing of his arrival.
All that said, what are the reasonable targets for Tuchel this season? The club are very much in the fight for the top four, and it seems inevitable that one of the requirements will be to target European qualification. The title appears out of reach now, so it would be unreasonable to suggest, at least this season, that Tuchel should fight for it.
Looking at other competitions, the League Cup has already been disregarded, but the FA Cup is certainly on the radar. Lampard came close last August, but the former PSG boss has a knack for winning domestic cups so it would be a telling sign if he could lift the trophy. With regards to the Champions League, Chelsea really have pulled the short straw with Atletico Madrid. It couldn’t be seen as underachievement to go out at this stage, considering the opposition.
When a manager arrives midway through a campaign, targets are often lower than they would be had they been there at the start. After all, in most cases, problems with team performance is the very reason they take over. Therefore, it would be horribly unfair to judge Tuchel on any of the standings at the end of this season. In fact, even failing to get top six may not be entirely pinned on the manager.
Looking ahead to next season
That is why, taking into account the current situation, the real barometer of success ought to be his first full season. The 2021/22 campaign, though it may seem some time away yet, is creeping up and that is when the real challenge will start – something all too well known to former Chelsea managers.
Assuming the current squad remains largely the same, Chelsea should be fighting with the top dogs next year. At the very least, it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that the Blues ought to be in a title challenge right until the end, with a growing expectation to win the competition.
Some may disagree with me on that, and they have every right to as well. After all, this is, essentially, entirely speculation although there is some reason based on past seasons. To me, however, I can’t see the board’s attitude change, despite me hoping so in recent years.
Furthermore, trophies are never unwelcome at the Bridge, so a domestic cup will likely be on the table too. Having said that, Antonio Conte won the FA Cup in his second season, and that didn’t save him so it would be more of a luxury than necessity.
Does Thomas Tuchel need European success?
Now, with the problem of Europe – this largely depends on the qualification the team achieves. If Champions League football is around, the hopes will be more conservative – the quarter finals being a good goal, say. Tuchel will know that, if it is the Europa League, anything short of the final would be disappointing.
Of course, individual competitions should never be the only level by which you judge a coach. Team spirit, the nature of games and board relationships are all also important. You simply need to look at least season to see evidence of that. But, from a fundamental point of view, Chelsea expects success.
Any further into the future than next season cannot be predicted due to the uncertainty both at Chelsea and the wider football world. However much we might like to convince ourselves that a ‘long-term project’ is a possibility, the reality is that the club wants almost immediate success. That philosophy can hardly be criticised, given the success of the last two decades. After all, the almost innumerable trophies pretty much speak for themselves.
Chelsea are infamously tough on managers, and there are a range of opinions on this approach. I, personally, am torn between the two sides. On the one hand, it does bring trophies and success, which can never be sneered at. On the other, there is often a disconnect between fans and the manager if things turn sour.
I am looking forward to seeing Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea manager and hope he enjoys great success. Only time will tell whether this comes to fruition – but we all know the damning implications of a ‘subpar’ season.
Let’s just hope Tuchel does too.
Written by Noah Robson @noahr24_
Edited by Tom Coley @tomcoley49
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