Premier League giants Chelsea have made the bombshell decision to sack manager Thomas Tuchel, just days after a record-breaking transfer window came to a close.
Tuchel guided the Blues to Champions League glory in his first season, in addition to two other minor trophies, but was axed following a dismal 1-0 defeat in the opening group stage match of this year’s Champions League competition. Having been hired in January 2021, the 49-year-old German manager also guided the team to both the FA Cup final and EFL Cup final last season, losing to Liverpool on both occasions.
The new ownership group, led by American Todd Boehly – also the club’s new interim sporting director – backed Tuchel heavily in the transfer market, splashing out around £270 million ($A461m) on nine signings. It was by far the biggest spend of any club in Europe.
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But after the 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, a furious Tuchel did not hold back on his side, saying: “I am angry with myself, I am angry about the performance.
“This is a huge underperformance from all of us. It’s not precise enough, it’s not clinical enough, not aggressive enough. It is not determined enough. It is not enough individually, it is not enough as a team and that is why we lose this game today.”
A club statement announcing Tuchel’s axing read: “As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the Club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition.”
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The Blues sit sixth in the Premier League, having won three games and drawn once from their six outings – but already five points behind early leaders Arsenal. Disappointing defeats to Leeds and Southampton ramped up the pressure, while his send-off at the end of a 2-2 draw with Tottenham was also a bad look.
He was fined £35,000 and given a one-match ban for the incident, and later fined an additional £20,000 for comments about referee Anthony Taylor.
The defeat to Zagreb was Tuchel’s 100th match in charge, but his hot start at Stamford Bridge had increasingly faded into disappointment on the back of a shaky defence.
In his first 50 games the Blues conceded just 24 goals, but in his last 50 matches they conceded 53 times.
Big-money centre-back duo Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana were at fault in Zagreb’s opener, with Fofana outpaced by Mislav Orsic in an embarrassing moment for the new £70m arrival.
With Chelsea having conceded at least once in their last six games (all competitions), it marked their equal longest run without a clean sheet under Tuchel.
He becomes the second Premier League manager to be axed this season, after Bournemouth sacked Scott Parker after just four games.
Brighton manager Graham Potter has been installed as an early favourite to take over at Stamford Bridge, while legendary player and manager Zinedine Zidane or former PSG and Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino have also been raised as potential replacements.
Chelsea next face Fulham in the league before a mid-week match with RB Salzburg as they attempt to revitalise their Champions League campaign. A massive clash with Liverpool follows.
“Chelsea Football Club has today parted company with Head Coach Thomas Tuchel.
On behalf of everyone at Chelsea FC, the Club would like to place on record its gratitude to Thomas and his staff for all their efforts during their time with the Club. Thomas will rightly have a place in Chelsea’s history after winning the Champions League, the Super Cup and Club World Cup in his time here.
As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the Club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition.
Chelsea’s coaching staff will take charge of the team for training and the preparation of our upcoming matches as the Club moves swiftly to appoint a new head coach.
There will be no further comment until a new head coach appointment is made.”