Replacing a club legend was never going to be a stroll, but Thomas Tuchel has started strongly. The German has done most of the things he needed to to convince Chelsea fans that he is actually an upgrade on Frank Lampard.
Three games (the first contested after Tuchel had barely touched down in London), two wins and a draw, with no goals conceded: these are very solid foundations to build on. Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy has hardly been troubled in 270-odd minutes of football.
The players look happier too, especially Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner, both of whom struggled to tune in to Lampard’s wavelength.
Tuchel is nobody’s fool. When asked about Dele Alli in the press conference before Chelsea’s game against Spurs (which the Blues dominated), he shut down the reporter with a combination of charm and unnerving confidence: “Are you in the right press conference, yeah? You sure?” he joked, but made it clear that he wasn’t about to shit on Jose Mourinho’s doorstep (see video below). Such instincts in dealing with the press should serve him well.
How are Chelsea playing? Things aren’t so different than under Lampard. There is more of a focus on possession football, played with high intensity and discipline. The contrast between Chelsea’s lively play and Tottenham’s turgid nonsense last night was extreme. And they definitely look more solid at the back.
Marcos Alonso has come in from the cold and done well at left wing-back, whilst Cesar Azpilicueta looks revitalised on the right side of defence. Callum Hudson-Odoi is another who is thriving.
Despite concerns that he would miss Lampard’s arm around his shoulder, Mason Mount is still playing to a high standard, and has won praise from his new manager – Mount was man of the match against Spurs. This tells me that Tuchel is not so vain that he thinks he has to rip up Lampard’s book completely.
All in all, I am impressed with Tuchel. That said, let’s not go overboard. He has so far come up against Wolves (out of form, missing their star striker), Burnley (in a relegation fight) and Spurs (out of form, missing their star striker). Let’s see how he fares against stiffer opposition.