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Were Chelsea right to fire Thomas Tuchel and hire Graham Potter?

Dinamo Zagreb v Chelsea FC: Group E - UEFA Champions League
Dinamo Zagreb v Chelsea FC: Group E - UEFA Champions League

Chelsea parted ways with Thomas Tuchel earlier this month. The 1-0 defeat against Dynamo Zagreb in the Champions League proved to be the final nail in his coffin. The German boss had admitted that 'everything was missing' post their defeat in Zagreb, which loomed in the dark clouds over his sacking.

New owner Todd Boehly, who spent a lavish sum in the summer market, displayed his ruthless side by sacking the beloved Chelsea boss on the back of some poor results. Chelsea went and hired Brighton & Hove Albion's Graham Potter a few days later as their new manager.

So was Tuchel's sacking justified? And how good is his replacement - Graham Potter? Let's take a look at both sides of the argument.

The downside of firing Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel walked into the club in January 2021, when the Blues struggled to perform with their expensively assembled squad. There was a lack of balance in the team under Frank Lampard.

Tuchel addressed the glaring holes and within six months converted Chelsea into a well-drilled unit. His Blues team capped off the season with a Champions League triumph.

On a personal front, Tuchel beat top managers like Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone and Zinedine Zidane. He imprinted upon the side the habit of a team that doesn't give an inch on the pitch.

Over the next 12 months is when Tuchel faced his toughest test. Chelsea started the 2021-22 season on a bright note, carrying their confidence from the previous campaign. However, injuries began to creep in, slowing the team down.

By January 2022, the same Chelsea who were leading the league table in November 2021, had fallen off the ladder. They were struggling to string wins together and looked lost in front of goal.

Matters were made far from complicated when the club was sanctioned by the UK government for being under the ownership of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. The UK government's decision to pursue justice by strangling Abramovich's financial holdings negatively affected the club.

As the Blues were left reeling from a situation of no hope, Tuchel became more than a head coach. He became the unofficial steward, spokesperson and face of the club.

During an away tie to France while on a Champions League assignment, the Blues were struggling to gather funds to hire a flight. Tuchel remarked that he would be ready to drive his players down to France if required. It showed the warrior inside the manager who was ready to go above and beyond for his club.

Tuchel's presence allowed an easy transition to the footballing aspects as he controlled and disciplined the squad by keeping them away from the outside noises.

Todd Boehly took over in the summer and backed the manager to invest heavily in the transfer market. The Chelsea manager openly admitted that he was working beyond his role as head coach and also putting in his regular input on the transfer front at the club.

To remove a man who held so much importance and significance at the club on the back of some poor results appears too harsh from Chelsea.

Tuchel's team, like Liverpool, had indeed made a slow start but the German possibly deserved the benefit of the doubt card given his performances over the last few months in keeping the club together.

Why firing Tuchel is a good decision

Chelsea have made it a habit of firing managers at the slightest hiccup. It is a volatile strategy but one that has worked well for the Blues. Both their Champions League winning managers did so in the first six months of their jobs, clearly indicating that the 'new manager bounce' is a real thing at the club.

Chelsea, under Tuchel, had begun to decay on the pitch. If a proper observation is made, it can be noted that the poor run of results is not just something that has propped up this season. It has been a recurring theme since January of this year.

Chelsea, who were near the top of the table in December 2021, finished 19 points behind eventual winners Manchester City in the Premier League last season. The fact that two of their best performances in the second half of the season came in losing causes (defeats in two cups against Liverpool) was a clear red flag that the team had dropped their intensity.

Coming into this season, the defeats against Southampton, Leeds United and Dynamo Zagreb were not just regular losses. It marked a clear image of Tuchel's team appearing lost on the pitch. They had given up the 'fight' which had made them special in the first place.

Yes, Tuchel was definitely crucial in stabilizing Chelsea through the ownership transition storm. However, that cannot be reason enough to keep a manager whose results are on the decline - that would hint at nostalgia and emotional decision-making. Tuchel should be loved and honored by Chelsea fans for showing great spirit and keeping the club together, but on the pitch his team had lost - repeatedly.

It was perhaps a more dignified farewell to a manager who appeared to have lost his team and would probably have been beaten in more games before eventually getting that sack. This decision, in a way, did not see him stick around long enough to become the villain - he leaves with his head held high.

Is Graham Potter the right choice at Chelsea?

Graham Potter's coaching credentials give belief to ordinary football fans. A man from humble beginnings, Potter worked hard, both in and outside his country, to gain his reputation.

He believes in a flexible tactical setup, which very much goes against Tuchel's willingness to try the same approach time and again. The biggest distinction between Tuchel and him, however, is that Potter believes in style over results.

He protects his players, rarely yells at them on the pitch, and encourages them to play fearless football without being scared of a loss. Tuchel's rigidity provided a structure for Chelsea, which later became a shackle for the club itself. Potter is here to break those chains and set free a new era under Boehly.

Moreover, with Tuchel gone, the last remains of the management have now disappeared. This will allow Boehly and his new partners to go about the club bringing in a new dawn.

Potter, given his adaptability, might just be the right man. Boehly clearly wants pliability in his management team, something Tuchel was never known for. It is possibly simply a case of being the right manager for Chelsea and not a competition about who the better coach is between Tuchel and Potter.

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Edited by Diptanil Roy
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