Thomas Tuchel has been fired by Paris St- Germain but another big job seems certain to come his way, despite his famously quarrelsome personality.
Chelsea are being mentioned in the English press as a possible destination with the Blues suddenly stuttering under Frank Lampard. But the Germany job, should Joachim Löw leave after June and July’s European Championship, also looks a possibility – albeit unlikely.
Runners-up in the Champions League last term, Tuchel also led PSG to the Ligue 1 title in his two full seasons in charge. They now sit third but it is more his fractious relationship with the board, which also ended his tenure at Borussia Dortmund, that appears to be behind the firing.
At the start of the campaign Tuchel complained about a lack of major signings at the Qatari-backed world’s richest club.
“If we stay like this we can’t speak about having the same objectives,” the German said. “Perhaps we can do it but we can’t ask for the same things from such a reduced squad.”
Limited shelf life
He was heavily criticized for the outburst by sporting director Leonardo, but Tuchel again hit the headlines with a recent comment that he felt more like “a sports politician or sports minister than a coach” during his first season at the club.
He said his words had been mistranslated but the writing was on the wall, despite a 4-0 win over Strasbourg in his final game at PSG.
It all adds to the notion that Tuchel has a combative personality and has a limited shelf life at clubs.
This was borne out by his time at Dortmund between 2015 and 2017. He challenged Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title and won the German Cup in his final game in 2017. But his relationship with the club’s hierarchy deteriorated to such a degree they could no longer work together.
“Tuchel is an exceptionally good coach… he also has incredible skills on the pitch. Sometimes there are things that just don’t work out. But I wouldn’t count Tuchel among my enemies now. Thomas is a difficult person, but a fantastic coach,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said last month.
Watzke had been annoyed by Tuchel saying the team had not been involved in the decision to play a Champions League game in 2017, a day after a bomb attack on the team bus. Watzke said the players were given the opportunity not to play. When asked if there was a difference in his and Tuchel’s version of events, he remarked: “Yes there is.”
He later told DAZN of Tuchel: “We will certainly not become great friends in life anymore.”
Tuchel also left Mainz under a cloud in 2014 after asking to be released from his contract.
Such a personality is unlikely to put off Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who changes coach every other year in any case. A coach who has an immediate impact early on thanks to his abrasive ways – much like Antonio Conte who won the Premier League in his first season at Chelsea – might be what the club want if they decide to abandon the unusually romantic tie-in with ex-player Lampard.
Tuchel has never worked in England before and the chance to go up against his friend Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool could prove tempting.
Short-term DFB deal?
But what about the Germany job? Löw will almost certainly stay for the Euros but the pressure is mounting for the 2014 World Cup winner to leave after the tournament, assuming it actually takes place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If inconsistent Germany cause a surprise and sparkle, Löw could quit with his head held high. If the tournament goes badly, you’d have to think the German Football Association (DFB) would have little other option than to sack him even though his deal runs until the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
If Löw does wind up leaving after the Euros, who would want to take on a job with just 16 months until the World Cup? The postponement of the Euros by a year means major tournaments are coming in back-to-back years, although admittedly the Qatar showpiece starts in November so the new coach would have a little more wiggle room.
This timeframe might lead the DFB into thinking a short-term contract for Tuchel would be a good idea. Perhaps Tuchel could provide Germany with a spark without the DFB having to give a long-term deal to a man who keeps clashing with his employers.
Getting a crack at the World Cup and then being free to pursue other options might just appeal to Tuchel. But whether he would be willing to wait until July for a DFB decision is another matter. The likes of Chelsea may come calling sooner.
There is a raft of top German coaches out there – Klopp, Bayern’s Hansi Flick, RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann and Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Marco Rose. Tuchel was the other member of the gang and now he is available. The chances of the DFB getting the other four are remote.
Yes, Flick was Löw’s assistant in 2014 and one can argue the only way is down at Bayern after a treble in his first (partial) season in charge.
But whether he would want to succeed a sacked Löw – his mentor – is a key factor.
Tuchel won’t be out of work for long – unless it is his wish. He has arguably outgrown the Bundesliga. Now the DFB and clubs such as Chelsea must decide if they are willing to take the risk.