PORTO, Portugal – Nothing displays the atypical dynamic between proprietor and head trainer at Chelsea as Roman Abramovich and Thomas Tuchel first met at the box as they received the Champions League on Saturday.
About an hour after the overall whistle of a 1–0 victory over Manchester City and with just a few hundred supporters within the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Abramovich walked onto the pitch to wait the rite, virtually sheepishly accompanied by way of the trophy. With Captain Cesar Azpilicueta, amongst others.
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Tuchel talks together with his employer, the primary face-to-face dialog he has had since succeeding 47-year-old Frank Lampard in January, an come upon he described as “the best moment to first meet… or the worst”. , as a result of any longer it would worsen!” Winning the biggest prize in club football would immortalize a manager at many clubs, but Chelsea have long been a standout in that regard.
Club director Marina Granovskia runs the Blues on a day-to-day basis, but, unlike some of the more removed chiefs at rival clubs, Abramovich still has an active interest and is the final arbiter in most major decisions. Tuchel is Abramovich’s 13th different manager since buying the club in 2003, a remarkable burn rate that was greeted with skepticism in the English game for years, contrary to the conventional wisdom that consistency breeds continued success.
Yet Saturday’s silverware is the 17th major trophy of the Abramovich era. No English club has won more in the same period. This is their second Champions League crown, and the similarities to the first nine years ago are stark. On both occasions, he sacked a manager in the middle of the season; Nine years ago, Roberto Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas in March. Two months later, he was a European champion.
City have long been lauded as one of the finest teams of the era, with Chelsea’s win in Portugal clearly upsetting to the prevailing consensus. And if we’re honest, they weren’t objectively the best team in Europe in 2012, but they still found a way to walk away with the trophy after beating Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout at the German club’s own stadium. The only other Champions League final in their history, the 2008 loss to Manchester United in Moscow, came another season halfway with a managerial change.
None of these are hypocrites. Maurizio Sarri’s departure was officially confirmed before Arsenal comfortably beat Arsenal 4-1 in the final of the 2019 Europa League, paving the way for Lampard’s appointment. Six years earlier, he won the same competition after being cut away from Di Matteo and placed Rafa Benítez in interim charge before Jose Mourinho was brought back for a second term. Benitez was unpopular with Chelsea fans for the comments he had previously made about the Blues when a Liverpool manager and they were unlikely to be around, yet he gave Benfica a stoppage-time winner with John Terry as an absolute -Kit gave another excuse for celebration.
Continuity in all of this is the relentless, unforgiving pursuit of excellence, ruthlessly enforced in the culture Abramovich created. Stamford Bridge is effectively the setting for a sports version of “Saturday Night Live”, the long-running US comedy sketch show that aims to keep itself relevant by using a different guest presenter each week. Each brings its own personality to it; Some look home, others from their depths, but the show remains relevant. At Chelsea, Tuchel is the incumbent, and what a show she gave this weekend. But he has a key difference with many of his predecessors, especially those with fleeting stints, including in the Champions League final.
Di Matteo had only three years’ experience managing Milton Keynes Dons and West Bromwich Albion before replacing Villas-Boas. A popular former player, Di Matteo set about reversing many of the changes made by his predecessor, restoring the established but aging players at the heart of the team. Similarly, when Avram Grant replaced Mourinho, he was a relative unknown working in Israel but with close ties to Abramovich. He pushed a reset button and allowed a team tired of Mourinho’s mood to largely choose themselves.
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Tuchel is different. They have a pedigree and have modified rather than maintained. Despite taking charge in the middle of an event condensed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the German has found a way to tie together an expensive assembled squad to be more than the sum of their parts. The tactical change was significant, adopting a 3-4-2-1 shape that was the best City could throw at them, as Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid had done before them. But other than that, mindset was everything.
Realizing the need to talk about building heritage, longevity, Tuchel hasn’t fallen into the trap of many before him and why he would buck the trend and build a dynasty in West London. They have embraced the mercenary and fire culture from day one. He knows he’s on an entertaining run, determined to enjoy the ride rather than waste energy trying to stop it. Players have bought into it: the here and now is all that matters.
Lampard desperately sought after to experience the similar prolonged keep as a participant he had spent 13 years in and cement his standing as a membership legend. But in spite of the membership’s in-depth wisdom of the ones years, he used to be not able to stay alongside of the tempo of exchange, the extent anticipated. Chelsea spent £220m in the summertime switch window and amid teething issues, Lampard mentioned hoping to nonetheless be round when he realizes his attainable. With 5 of his six signings beginning in opposition to City, Tuchel did so in 5 months.
Lampard is simply beginning his managerial profession; He will improvise and discover a extra forgiving setting to hone his craft. The more straightforward it will be for them to mention extra in regards to the membership’s indicators in gamers, the extra affect in hierarchical politics.
Tuchel, fired by way of Paris Saint-Germain on Christmas Eve, is easily versed on this harsh local weather. A freelance extension is anticipated within the coming days, however he is aware of there is not any ensure he’s going to see it: Di Matteo used to be sacked 186 days after profitable the Champions League.
However, Tuchel acknowledges his environment. “The level has now been set since the festival ended and when we have digested this experience, it is a moment to grow and use it, to become better at learning,” he mentioned. “It’s absolutely important. We have young players. Starving now and going for the next is a big challenge. I can assure them [Abramovich] that I will be hungry. That I want the next title.”
Perhaps the fit winner summed it up very best. As Chelsea’s celebrations started to enclose them after the overall whistle, Kai Havertz used to be requested in a tv interview whether or not this used to be the appropriate finish of a hard season bearing the weight of being the membership’s report signing.
“To be honest, I don’t give the f—,” he spoke back. “We just won the f— the Champions League.”
And that, in a nutshell, is Chelsea: in point of fact profitable is the one factor that issues.