It feels like a lifetime ago since we were watching then Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and current Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte in each other’s faces on the touchlines of Stamford Bridge like Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk .
But nearly a month on, and just two victories for the Blues later, Tuchel was today relieved of his duties in charge of the London club.
The former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund manager lasted just 100 games in the capital with Chelsea, winning 62, drawing 19 and losing 19.
His side won the Champions League and Super Cup but failed to capitalise on their form at the end of the 2020-21 season and faded away last year.
Tuchel was given control over the on-field side of a Chelsea in transition from former owner and alleged Vladimir Putin ally Roman Abramovich to the new America-based Todd Boehly-fronted consortium who took charge earlier this year.
But as if Tuchel was an American president, the ownership had made their minds up after the first 100 days: he was to be dismissed.
“As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the Club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition,” a statement from the club said yesterday.
“Chelsea’s coaching staff will take charge of the team for training and the preparation of our upcoming matches as the Club moves swiftly to appoint a new head coach. There will be no further comment until a new head coach appointment is made.”
While rumours begin to circulate as to who could take up the seemingly poisoned chalice-like role at Chelsea, it is worth casting minds back to Tuchel’s first conference in charge of the club, 100 matches ago in January of last year.
When he was asked whether he had reservations over Chelsea’s well-known and historic fire and hire policy, Tuchel said: “If you sign in for Chelsea you sign in for the hunger of titles, you sign in for being absolutely competitive in every competition you play.
“I am totally aware of that. It does not scare me, we have big ambitions.”
But how those ambitions have faded. No Premier League title, no domestic trophy, but instead a Champions League with a squad built on the foundations of Frank Lampard and a Club World Cup where Tuchel looked like the mastermind of a new Chelsea era.
Fast forward a year and you’d have found Tuchel complaining about his club’s transfer business. You’d have seen him back up a poor end to last year with a dismal start – by Chelsea’s standards – to this campaign. And you’d have seen them fall to an opportunistic Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.
Did Tuchel lose his touch? Did the German’s intense reputation catch up on him? Or did Chelsea, desperate to distance themselves from the recent history of their business, revert back to exactly what the old dynasty did and demand success from quality managers with little margin for error.
Whether it is former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, current Brighton honcho Graham Potter or someone else, Chelsea remain a club who’re happy to pull the trigger when the momentum shifts ever so slightly against them. It’s the Russian roulette job of the Premier League, and that’s exactly why it’ll always attract the ambitious gamblers.