Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
Chelsea finally confirmed the identity of Frank Lampard’s successor on Tuesday evening as Thomas Tuchel became the 13th manager appointed by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich since he took over the club in 2003.
The highly-regarded German coach – who carries a reputation for clashing with top brass – signed an 18-month contract with Chelsea “with the possibility of an extension” and the 47-year-old has already taken his first training session with his new players at Cobham.
Fan favourite and club legend Lampard was sacked on Monday following a day of intense speculation, with Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer axed following a dismal run of two wins from eight Premier League fixtures.
Now Chelsea have turned to master tactician Tuchel, appointing the German in the hope that he can trigger an instant reversal in the club’s fortunes.
Can Tuchel get a tune out of Werner and Havertz?
Chelsea backed Frank Lampard to the tune of £220m in the summer, embarking on an aggressive recruitment drive intended to transform the team into genuine Premier League title contenders.
However, despite their massive outlay, regression became the watchword at Stamford Bridge and the limp performances of two of their most expensive new arrivals – Timo Werner and Kai Havertz – almost certainly contributed to Lampard’s dismissal.
One of Tuchel’s primary objectives will be to squeeze more out of his talented but underperforming compatriots. With five goals between them in 35 combined Premier League appearances, Werner and Hazard have so far failed to live up to the billing and the hope will be that a manager with Bundesliga experience can unlock their potential.
Thomas Tuchel: what to expect?
Thomas Tuchel arrives at Stamford Bridge with plenty of pedigree, and his record during his relatively short career in management makes for very impressive reading.
Tuchel lifted seven trophies in total during spells with Borussia Dortmund and Paris St. Germain, while the German coach also holds the highest points-per-game ratio of any manager in BVB history.
The 47-year-old also made his mark in France, leaving PSG with the highest win percentage and highest average points per game numbers in the history of Ligue 1.
Renowned for being a meticulous and demanding tactician, Tuchel won’t accept anything but total commitment from his new Chelsea charges, and it shouldn’t take long for his methods to take hold at Stamford Bridge.
In terms of a style of play, Tuchel likes his teams to play expansive, attacking football, while fluidity in formations should also be expected. 4-3-3 is Tuchel’s favoured set-up, though he has also deployed teams in a number of different structures, so don’t be surprised to see him mix it up from game to game.
What would success in Tuchel’s first season look like?
Tuchel takes charge of Chelsea for the first time against Wolves with the Blues languishing in 10th place at the Premier League’s half-way point. However, in what is a tightly-packed top half, a victory over Wanderers would launch the Londoners to within three points of fourth.
A top four finish and qualification for next season’s Champions League should be well within reach for Chelsea, providing Tuchel can spark an immediate improvement at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have quality to burn and one of the deepest squads in the Premier League, and if Tuchel can find a system that allows the mechanisms to glide instead of grind, Chelsea could be one of the division’s most formidable outfits.
Chelsea’s involvement in the FA Cup and Champions League also presents Tuchel with an opportunity to chase silverware in his first season in charge, though domestic success looks far more achievable than continental glory.
Last season’s beaten FA Cup finalists have enjoyed a fortunate run in the tournament so far, beating lower-league sides Morecambe and Luton to set up another winnable clash with Barnsley on February 10.
A victory over the Tykes at Oakwell would see Chelsea into the quarter finals and, with big hitters like Arsenal and Liverpool already out, the route to the final at Wembley looks relatively uncluttered.
Can Tuchel get off to a winning start?
With the fabled new manager bounce likely to have an impact, Chelsea look favourites begin Tuchel’s reign with a bang against a Wolves team lacking punch without talismanic striker Raul Jimenez, though a glance at the Blues’ upcoming fixtures suggests the German can gather more points quickly.
Chelsea follow their date with Wanderers with fixtures against Burnley (H), Tottenham (A) and Sheffield United (A), and Tuchel will be hoping to gather at least nine points during this sequence.
The Blues’ trip to play Spurs for a London Derby on 4th of February already promises to be a fascinating skirmish and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will be desperate to teach Tuchel a lesson about the harsh realities of life in the ultra-competitive Premier League.
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