Thomas Tuchel transformed Chelsea’s campaign after he was named Frank Lampard’s replacement at Stamford Bridge at the end of January.
The formation change
Tuchel made the decision to tear up Chelsea’s tactical playbook ahead of his first training session at Cobham.
Out went the 4-3-3 system used under Lampard this season. In its place, a 3-4-2-1 was implemented.
It was a choice taken somewhat in haste but done down to necessity. “We decided on the plane over [from Paris] how we were going to play against Wolverhampton,” he told BT Sport in March.
“We decided to go with the back three so we could defend with five and have quick pressing against the five of Wolverhampton.”
Reintegrating the experienced stars
When Lampard was appointed Chelsea head coach ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, he inherited an ageing squad with regular starters Willian, Pedro, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicutea all in their thirties. By the start of the following season, only Azpilicueta remained.
In their place came younger stars and in year two of his Chelsea project, Lampard remained keen on giving those in the early years of their careers greater responsibility in the side.
Staying calm in a crisis
It wouldn’t be Chelsea if there weren’t one or two big hurdles for a head coach to navigate during the opening months of their tenure. And Tuchel discovered that immediately after his honeymoon period ended.
Going into the March international break, the Blues were unbeaten and all appeared well. Then when the Premier League resumed, Tuchel’s side were beaten 5-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion and within 24 hours news emerged that Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga had become embroiled in a training ground scrap.
Avoiding off-field conflict
One of the big reservations many had about Tuchel’s appointment was how he’d be able to handle those above him at Stamford Bridge.
Previous head coaches, such as Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri and even Lampard, had issues with the Chelsea board and the decisions taken.
Tuchel, meanwhile, had fallen out with key figures within the hierarchies of former clubs Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.
Yet early into his reign, Tuchel cut a relaxed figure when it comes to off-pitch issues. Take his contract, for instance.
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