'Tuchel can get very angry' - New Chelsea manager's 'merciless' side

Last Updated
Getty Images

Since his arrival at Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel has presented an open, funny and charming image to the British media as well, for the most part, towards his playing squad.

A run of four wins and a draw since replacing Frank Lampard has obviously helped ease the German into his new surroundings, and the Blues will be heavy favourites to come out on top once more when they host Newcastle on Monday.

But for a brief moment during Thursday's FA Cup fifth-round win over Barnsley, Tuchel's mask slipped.

In what his side's worst peformance of his short tenure, the ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss could be seen bellowing at his players as they struggled to deal with their Championship opposition before Tammy Abraham's winning goal.

Despite his clear fury on the touchline, Tuchel moved quickly to defend his players post-match, claiming that expectations should not have been high after he made 10 changes to his starting line up at Oakwell.

It is a tactic the 47-year-old has used throughout his managerial career, with his press conference persona helping to hide a side that many of his former charges have spoken out about.

"I like that he protects us from the media," PSG playmaker Julian Draxler told  Goal  last season. "For example, after a bad game, he says, 'Okay, it wasn't that bad, but we could have done better.' Outwardly, he always focuses on the positive aspects of a game.

"But you can be sure that Thomas Tuchel can also be completely different in the dressing room. He demands a lot from his players - and if we don't perform well, he's also mercilessly honest with us.

Thomas Tuchel Chelsea GFX

"Every player knows what to do on the pitch. And when someone doesn't do their job, the coach can get very angry."

Tuchel's anger towards his players is well documented.

During his days in charge of Mainz, he tore former Bayern Munich and Sunderland man Jan Kirchoff apart in front of his team-mates after the defender wore a training top adorned with the wrong sponsor's logo to an Under-19s match, an incident that left Kirchoff feeling "crap".

"It was just an accident, and he made me feel so uncomfortable that I even put on a jacket so that nobody could see the sweater," Kirchoff recalled to Goal in July.

It is a reputation that has followed Tuchel around wherever he has coached, with the Chelsea boss having been accused in the past of having favourites in the dressing room.

Mats Hummels' decision to leave Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich in 2016 was made easier for the Germany international because of his poor relationship with then-manager Tuchel, and there were concerns that a similar situation could have developed with Neymar when Tuchel took over at Parc des Princes.

As it turned the out, the pair developed a strong relationship but when the honeymoon period finally ends for Tuchel at Chelsea, he will have to make tough decisions.

Thomas Tuche Neymarl PSG GFX

His predecessor, Lampard, put together one of the Premier League's more bloated squads during his 18 months at the helm in west London, with the Blues' roster currently containing three left-backs, five centre-backs and a £71-million ($99m) back-up goalkeeper.

Lampard had clearly established a hierarchy in terms of which players he preferred to have in his team, which in turn had created a sour atmosphere inside a dressing room that just weeks before his sacking had been noticably united.

Tuchel's way to combat those issues has been to ensure each and every member of his squad is given an opportunity, though with a tough run of fixtures to come he will likely have to lean on his own favourites.

A visit to Southampton follows Monday's meeting with Newcastle, with matches against Manchester United, Everton and Leeds United then sandwiched between the two legs of their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid.

Tuchel says he has matured with age, insisting he has learned from fall-outs with his superiors at each of his last three clubs.

But it is inside the dressing room that he will need to get the balance right as his team go in search of a top-four finish that is suddenly well within their grasp.

“Just because I am trying hard to be kind to you guys [the media] does not mean I am trying too hard so that everybody loves me in the dressing room, because this does not exist and is not necessary," Tuchel told reporters ahead of the upcoming fixture against Steve Bruce's side.

“Can I be a shouter? Yes, if it is necessary, I can be totally emotional and a shouter if I have the feeling this is the moment to do it and to surprise you.

"If I do it all the time nobody will listen because it becomes a habit and everybody gets used to it, so the goal is to stay unpredictable.

"It is important to me to build trust and a relationship that we can rely on and not shouting at people and insulting people in front of a group, that is unacceptable.

Thomas Tuchel Chelsea quote GFX

“But if we have to point out things clearly I am a big, big fan of doing it in front of the whole group, because if we have behaviour that will do harm to the group and that is causing trouble for the team on the pitch, we should tell the players individually.

"But also I believe strongly that the group has to handle it and everybody has to have the personality to swallow some criticism in front of the group.

Article continues below

"This will never change. I don’t do stuff to be loved by everybody in the dressing room.”

Tuchel is clearly aware of the reputation he has from his previous roles, but that does not mean the 'merciless' side has gone from his management style.

For his and Chelsea's sake, he must ensure he gets the balance right. Otherwise there could be disharmony when things start to go wrong at Stamford Bridge.