In August 2017, Germany’s SportBild reported Chelsea had picked Thomas Tuchel as their new manager. SportBild were confident, saying Chelsea had already lost patience with Antonio Conte.
The Italian manager had ‘pulled his head out of the loop’ with an early season victory over Tottenham, but his days were said to be numbered. Roman Abramovich and Marina Granovskaia had a short fuse with Conte, and the latter had decided on Tuchel as a replacement.
SportBild claimed: ‘The relationship between the hard lady and the stubborn coach is more than tense. From England it can be seen that Conte has no more direct line to his boss. She wants Tuchel. The Russian doesn’t mind the fact that it isn’t easy. She is not looking for a buddy for joint pub visits, but a new successful trainer. Tuchel would be interested.’
The reporting was slightly uncomfortable, with Granovskaia’s role almost certainly overplayed, and SportBild making sure they repeatedly pointed out she’s female.
Then in November, SportBild were at it again: ‘It’s clear: Tuchel will not wait forever for Bayern. Chelsea are also interested in his commitment if champion-manager Antonio Conte cannot get the team back on track.’
Of course, Conte remains in his job, so the joint Abramovich and Granovskaia fuse must have got longer.
The German magazine have an article this week on ‘Phantom Tuchel’ and how he’s been gliding around Europe and popping up here and there. They state that as soon there’s doubt over a manager like Conte ‘Thomas Tuchel is an immediate topic’.
That’s largely because they, and a few others, played a big part in making it so.
So what they portrayed in August as Conte’s quick exit being a sure thing, and Tuchel being chosen to replace him, has now dragged on to February without either Chelsea sacking their manager or the German coach finding a new job.
Chelsea may actually make that approach sooner or later.