Thomas Tuchel’s ‘worst fears’ at Chelsea become reality after Roman Abramovich prediction

Tuchel admits he can't go on holiday as Chelsea face busy summer

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Thomas Tuchel is optimistic and passionate, but the Chelsea head coach is also a realist. When he led the Blues to an unexpected Champions League success a year ago, the German quickly realised it could be the peak moment of his reign at the club after a conversation with owner Roman Abramovich.

“The [players] were determined to win this. We wanted to be a stone in their shoe,” he said after their triumph in Porto. “We encouraged everybody to step up and step out, to be more brave and create dangerous counter-attacks. It was a tough physical game. We had to help each other out.

“Maybe I have a new contract now with that win. I spoke to Roman just now and it was the best moment for the first meeting, or maybe the worst moment. Maybe it can only get worse now.”

A year on from Chelsea’s Champions League success and already, so much has changed at the club since that famous night on May 29, 2021. Tuchel is a refreshing constant, at least for now after getting that lucrative new deal, but the club is set to change hands with Todd Boehly taking over from the exiled billionaire Abramovich.

Tuchel has somehow kept his composure and handled himself brilliantly since Abramovich was sanctioned and announced he was selling the club. The 48-year-old remained committed to his job when others may have been tempted to jump ship, amid reported interest from Manchester United at the time.

But on the pitch, it is difficult to ignore that the Blues have experienced a slight regress. Although third in the Premier League represents some slight progress from their struggle to get over the line for a top-four finish in 2020-21, the gap between themselves and the title challengers Manchester City and Liverpool remains as wide as it has ever been.

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The £97.5million signing of Romelu Lukaku was meant to take Chelsea to the next level after their second European triumph in nine years. Instead, the Belgian has largely flattered to deceive, scoring only 14 goals in all competitions and just eight in the Premier League. Kai Havertz, Reece James and Mason Mount have taken another step up in their promising careers, but it wasn’t quite enough to turn Chelsea into serious contenders for the league title.

The team Tuchel is managing now looks very different to the resolute, valiant starting XI he fielded against Manchester City. Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are going, Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso could join them, while the future of Jorginho and even Lukaku remains unclear. Of course, the sea of change at the club could prove to be positive.

With new blood such as Jules Kounde targeted, Tuchel will get the chance to prove himself wrong by assembling a fresh and exciting Chelsea team. The realist in him may warn that it could take years for the Blues to get back to winning ways, but with their fearless leader Tuchel in charge, there is hope they can bridge the gap and add a sixth Premier League crown to their trophy cabinet in the near future.

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