Cutting ties with club legend Frank Lampard in January was pretty much the most controversial thing Chelsea could think of doing.
Results and performances were pretty dire, but this was Super Frank. He’s synonymous with Chelsea and was brought in as the man capable of rebuilding the entire culture around Stamford Bridge. Offloading him was always going to spark a civil war among fans.
Despite club owner Roman Abramovich’s rare statement thanking Lampard for his work, that civil war is exactly what we got, and things escalated to a new level when former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel was named as his successor.
A divisive manager himself, Tuchel’s appointment was one which needed to bring success. If you’re going to bin off Lampard, end the long-term rebuild project and return to the hired-goons phase, you better see significant improvement immediately.
To both Chelsea and Tuchel’s credit, we have seen exactly that.
Since Tuchel’s first interview as Chelsea manager, the optimism towards him has been growing. The German seems to have all the right answers to every question and has a knack of making you buy into what he is saying.
Lampard had a similar approach in the media, but what sets Tuchel apart is we are seeing results on the pitch as well. It’s not just empty promises with a call for patience. Chelsea are genuinely good at football again.
In Tuchel’s 11 games in charge, Chelsea are unbeaten. That includes wins over Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Everton, as well as a goalless draw with Manchester United. These are Chelsea’s direct rivals, and none have got one over on them.
That’s perhaps the biggest contrast between Lampard and Tuchel’s Chelseas. Lampard did not manage to beat a top-ten side before his season was brought to an end in January, whereas Tuchel hasn’t lost to one.
Not only are Chelsea winning those games, but they’re doing it in style. The Blues are defensively resolute – something Lampard’s side never figured out – and are passing their way through teams with devastating efficiency.
They’re not the finished article yet. The creativity isn’t always there and some of the bigger names – Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech – all still need that patience Lampard was begging for earlier in the season.
However, with Tuchel it feels like that patience will be rewarded. There are clear signs of where Chelsea are going these days, and results on the pitch are showing that.
Down in tenth towards the end of Lampard’s reign, Chelsea are now flying high in fourth, and most rival fans would agree that they look like sealing a spot in the Champions League. Teams around them are faltering, but the Blues are just getting started.
Tuchel has addressed almost all of the weaknesses in Chelsea’s game and has offered us the progress which Lampard promised we would see in phase two of his plan.
Lampard insisted Chelsea wouldn’t be title contenders this season, but they would show signs of blossoming into a genuine contender ahead of launching an all-out assault on the trophy next year. Super Frank didn’t get that far, but Tuchel has.
Every Chelsea fan will admit seeing Lampard’s empire tumble around him was a painful sight, and if you asked supporters whether they would rather enjoy this kind of success under Lampard or Tuchel, the club’s all-time top scorer would win by a landslide.
However, reality got in the way of that dream. Chelsea needed a change, and Tuchel has brought that. It wasn’t the easiest decision to make, but it could not have been a better one.