How can Thomas Tuchel recover from Chelsea’s rocky form and Romelu Lukaku’s comments?
After setting the pace to Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table for much of the early stages of this season, in what seems like a blink of an eye, it looks almost certain that Chelsea now find themselves once again out of the title race at just the halfway stage.
A poor run of form that arguably started with a shock 1-1 draw at home to Burnley in early November has resulted in the Blues dropping 13 points from the subsequent 10 Premier League games that have followed and they are now 10 points behind Pep Guardiola’s rampant defending champions — whom they boasted a five-point advantage over as recently as the end of October.
With games coming thick and fast over December and the festive period, in which Chelsea played a huge 10 times in all competitions if you include the draw at home to Liverpool on January 2nd, and with injuries and covid cases building up in that timeframe, it has certainly not been plain sailing for Thomas Tuchel and his backroom staff over the last few weeks.
To make matters worse, Romelu Lukaku, who returned to Stamford Bridge for almost £100 million from Inter Milan back in August, told the Italian media that he is not happy with his current situation at Chelsea as the Blues boss has opted to play a formation that does not suit the striker’s style of play — which, of course, did not bode well with Tuchel.
The problem now for the German gaffer is how does he turn this around? It’s no secret that the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge are not afraid to pull the trigger on a manager’s time at the club, and while they continue to fall out of favour in the Premier League football odds, having a player of Lukaku’s stature at Chelsea and in the dressing room speak out against you isn’t going to have done Tuchel any favours at all.
While he was unhappy with the Belgian forward’s comments, which resulted in Lukaku being dropped from the side for the visit of Liverpool, the former Paris Saint-Germain coach has said that he is going to sit down with Lukaku and discuss the situation behind closed doors. But perhaps that will only help the situation as Tuchel claims he was not aware of the 28-year-old’s displeasure.
If they can come to some kind of conclusion then it will surely only benefit everyone at the club. Lukaku re-found some form after Christmas, scoring in successive league games against Aston Villa and Brighton, and it is when he is at his best that Chelsea have the best chance of winning — especially with Reece James and Ben Chilwell, two crucial attacking threats down the wings, both side-lined for a long period.
Tuchel can also use the January transfer window to help pull him and his side out of this rut. With James and Chilwell out, cover is needed in both the right and left wing-back positions, which are vital in the 48-year-old’s 3-4-2-1 formation. While better cover might be needed in midfield as the likes of Saúl Ñíguez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley have all looked sub-par.
The moans and groans surrounding the manager are starting to be heard around Stamford Bridge and appearing on the popular social media platforms, and while it’s easier said than done, Tuchel needs to start winning on a regular basis again and soon or he could face the chop — his odds constantly being slashed in the next-manager-to-be-sacked market is proof.
While they are unlikely to catch Man City, a place in the top four is still in their hands, and there is still the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup to play for. So, Tuchel has plenty of opportunities to recover from this situation and prove he is the right man for the Chelsea job.
/ 11 hours ago
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