Thomas Tuchel appeared to be Chelsea’s new special one, of which they have had many since 2004. However, he came with the German tactic revolution that is sweeping over European football, a stellar combination of movement, pressing and intensity.
Chelsea began to tail off after Christmas despite playing some attractive football. However, the end of the season has been disappointing as they have been dragged into a top-four race with Arsenal and Spurs. With Manchester City and Liverpool still a level above, how can Chelsea improve next season?
Integrate Romelu Lukaku
On the back of winning the Champions League last season, Chelsea signed Serie A-winning striker Romelu Lukaku who appeared to be the missing piece of the puzzle. What promised to be a three-horse race quickly deteriorated as the season went on. Liverpool and Manchester City are vying for the title in the final few games, with Premiership winner odds currently favouring The Citizens at 1/20.
Lukaku came to Chelsea as a returning prodigal son of Pogba proportions, but it seems to have gone a similar route, with relationships with the manager and fans collapsing fast. The Belgian was the Serie A top scorer last year and appeared to have brought the goalscorer edge that the Blues needed, scoring three in his opening four games. However, after the infamous interview that was released in December, where he expressed an interest in rejoining Inter Milan, his form has been horrendous, scoring five goals since his early burst.
What has gone wrong is that Tuchel’s trust in the striker appears to have dwindled. Lukaku’s lack of movement, holdup and interchangeable play that the other attacking options offer became a problem to the cohesiveness of the forwards. Tuchel needs to find a way to integrate the Belgian striker and get the most out of their significant investment if Chelsea hope to improve next season.
Replace Antonio Rudiger
Rudiger has been monumental to Chelsea at the back since signing, particularly in the last two seasons. However, he has signed a pre-contract with Real Madrid and will be leaving next year. In the three-man backline, he leaves a massive hole, where his defensive presence and ball-playing ability were crucial to how Tuchel’s side played.
Speculation also surrounds Cesar Azpilicueta’s future, but Tuchel would be wise to hold onto the Spaniard, having also lost Andreas Christensen, even if it’s just for his experience in the locker room. With such a mass exodus threatening one of the best defences in the Premier League, Tuchel needs to promote from within or have astute signings to ensure his side stays rock solid.
Trust the Process
What Tuchel has proven over the years from all of his managerial stints is that he is capable of building cohesive and devastating teams. His personality can sometimes come across as overbearing, but he is the best manager the Blues have had since Antonio Conte. If Chelsea wants to build something remarkable, they have to give a manager more than two or three years. Yes, they have won many trophies in the last 15 years, but if they want to contend consistently rather than in four-year cycles, they need to lay foundations that can last, which can be seen at Liverpool and City.