Chelsea has finally found Frank Lampard’s replacement. On Tuesday, Thomas Tuchel was announced as manager. Formerly of PSG and Borussia Dortmund, Tuchel comes in as Chelsea are in the midst of desperation and panic. Instead of finding their savior, Chelsea grasped at the first manager available, and Tuchel will no doubt find life at Stamford Bridge difficult, just as his predecessor Lampard had.
Signed to an 18-month contract, Tuchel hopes to turn the Blues’ season around. Fans will look to him as a potential savior, but Tuchel’s signing doesn’t magically eliminate the club’s issues.
Chelsea’s 2020-2021 Premier League campaign has been underwhelming, to say the least. After a summer of marquee signings, expectations were high for the Blues. However, just about halfway into the season, the Blues find themselves at 9th and out of a Europa League spot.
Summer transfers seemingly went well for the club. Adding veteran defender Thiago Silva and playmaker Hakim Ziyech to the squad brought tremendous upside. Signing on the German attacking duo of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner only added to an already “successful” transfer window. Clearly, this anticipation turned into disappointment as Havertz and Werner have just 5 combined goals thus far. To add insult to injury, Ziyech fell victim to an apparent injury that kept him sidelined for much of the season’s first half.
Too Much Attack?
It’s easy to blame the summer transfers for the club’s performances, but the problems originate squad’s depth. Despite the great reputation of the summer signings, it was odd to see so many attackers pursued when an abundance of attacking depth already existed in the squad.
Part of the issue was Lampard’s indecisiveness in choosing a starting lineup given the overabundance of attacking players. Pulisic, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, and Abraham all remained. That marks 5 very viable attacking options that all seek game time. Adding Havertz, Werner, and Ziyech only complicated the rotation and lessened the room for minutes.
A prolific frontline is a great asset to have, and this is the case for Chelsea. But in all their attacking ability, they severely lack in the defensive department. Last year saw 54 goals fly by Chelsea’s defense in just 38 matches. Given this statistic, it would make sense to pursue new defenders, but this year may be no different as the team already has conceded 23 in 19 matches.
Lack of Playstyle and Identity
If success is a goal in the near future, Tuchel must sort out a consistent starting lineup. Lampard’s everchanging lineups led to an inability to establish a primary playstyle and, as a consequence, led to inconsistencies between matches. It doesn’t take a tactical genius to know that team chemistry is of utmost importance. Lampard never allowed this to fully develop as his starting 11’s often varied between match weeks.
Lampard’s inconsistencies were made most apparent just last week as he suddenly dropped defender Kurt Zouma in favor of backup Antonio Rudiger. Zouma played alongside Thiago Silva to make up one half of the team’s center back partnership for most of the season before Lampard’s choice to bench him.
The team sheet continued to puzzle fans as last season’s breakout star Fikayo Tomori rode the bench until his loan move to AC Milan. Tomori impressed last season and made 17 appearances as Chelsea finished 4th. This season has been a different story for the youngster as he was essentially locked out of the team until his loan departure to Italy.
If Thomas Tuchel wants to truly rebuild and get Chelsea back to at least Champions League contention, he needs to mend Lampard’s mistakes over the course of a year and a half. That is, find a consistent 11 and build a playing style to establish a club identity that went awry under Lampard.
The struggle will be against the odds, and the likelihood of him completing his goals this season are low. If Tuchel is given adequate support and time, don’t be surprised to see Chelsea competing for the title next year.