13 quotes to explain Thomas Tuchel’s philosophy: ‘Mourinho minus the ego’
Chelsea aren’t wasting any time in finding a successor to Frank Lampard, with reports that Thomas Tuchel will be appointed as the club’s new manager emerging immediately in the wake of Lampard’s sacking.
Tuchel has great respect among his fellow coaches and fits the brief that the Blues are reportedly looking for a German-speaker to try to get the best out of underperforming summer signings Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
The former Borussia Dortmund manager is freely available, having been dismissed as PSG boss in December. Here’s everything you need to know about how he views football, via 13 key quotes.
“I didn’t win a single tackle today, I didn’t run a single metre. Please get one of the boys [for an interview] instead,” the man himself told the press after his Mainz side upset the odds to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 back in 2010.
Tuchel later told German newspaper Die Zeit in 2017: “There’s definitely a style that’s been attributed to me, that we brought to the table at Mainz: pace going forward and attack-minded football. I prefer certain qualities, an active playing style, bold defending and pacy play in attack.”
That approach has been a constant thread throughout his managerial career.
“Tuchel, who never played top-flight football and retired at 24 due to a chronic knee injury, is the league’s unlikeliest manager,” wrote Jurgen Klopp’s biographer in The Guardian while Tuchel was first catching the eye at Mainz in 2010.
“He looks like a cross between Heino and a Graphic Design dropout from Berlin, and he is Jose Mourinho minus the ego: smart, incredibly hardworking, self-effacing.
“There are no stars in his side but collectively few achieve more. Tuchel has confessed to admiring little, ingenuous Chile’s tactics at the World Cup and contrary to most commentators – this column included – he probably did understand them, too.”
An admirer of Marcelo Bielsa, then. He’ll soon get a chance to pit his wits against the Argentinian tactician.
“Klopp and Tuchel could definitely manage the national team with their styles. Whenever I have spoken with Klopp and Tuchel, I can tell already they know exactly what they want,” the Germany boss said back in 2010.
“They both share my philosophy of bringing through young players. They have a roadmap and they follow it religiously.”
“I thought that Thomas Tuchel would be the perfect manager for Dortmund,” the Liverpool manager said of his replacement at BVB.
“Not just because he’s a really good manager, but he was on the market, and I thought if we don’t announce it now, then he might sign for another club, and I wanted him to become the manager of Dortmund.”
Klopp later praised the job his compatriot was doing at PSG. “A fantastic, fantastic manager,” he said. “You can see really his influence, it has changed a lot their style of play, how they play, different formations and stuff like that. I know a lot of people who have worked with him, they all are full of respect for him.
“You cannot be in the Champions League only because of spending money, that is not how it is. You need to have on the pitch a good organisation, because all the others we are not blind. We do our job as well and you need to have the right tools in the right moments and Thomas has that.”
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
“He’s one of the best coaches that I’ve had. I can’t deny his talent,” said the Arsenal striker, who played under Tuchel at Dortmund.
“He’s someone a bit crazy, a little like me. You could say that his style is a bit like that of Guardiola. In any case, they play with the same spirit.
“He likes to keep the ball with a style of play that likes to see the ball move forward, no matter what happens.”
“He [Tuchel] suggested I go and scout an opposition team,” the next big thing in German coaching is quoted as saying in Tuchel’s biography, having suffered a botched knee operation when he was a young player under Tuchel in Augsburg’s reserves.
“Thomas told me I should try becoming a coach in case I couldn’t play anymore. He had a feeling that I might be talented, due to the way I thought and spoke (about the game). He said I should definitely give it a go.”
Thomas Tuchel’s a smart, modern, adventurous coach, but at Dortmund and PSG one of the central issues was his failure to manage upwards. He tends to fall out with the people he works with/for. Lucky that there’s never any power politics at Chelsea.
— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) January 25, 2021
Like Nagelsmann, Tuchel’s playing career was curtailed by a serious injury, and he retired as a player at the age of 24. But he was given his big break in coaching by the famously influential Ralf Rangnick, ‘the Godfather of gegenpressing’.
“Rangnick allowed me to shadow him as an intern and then I became manager of the [Stuttgart] Under-14s. That’s how things started,” Tuchel later recalled.
“[Training was] something you need to learn and understand, not a thing you do because there’s nothing else left or because it seems like the logical next step after 400 professional matches.”
“Tuchel is a perfectionist. Every detail counts towards perfection. It is not surprising that he gets on so well with Pep Guardiola. They are very similar in their vision and approach to the game. They are both obsessed by the quest for perfection,” French football journalist Julien Laurens wrote for Unibet in the early weeks of Tuchel’s tenure at PSG.
“That’s the message the German is trying to pass on to his players: getting as close to perfection as possible. For that, he is innovative in his training sessions.
“The drills are fun, new, tough. He brings a new message to the dressing room. He has banned fizzy drinks and sauces from the canteen. And he has struck a very solid bond with his dressing room already.”
“He’s incredible. Here I’ve (met) a German with a Brazilian soul,” the right-back said after joining PSG in 2018.
“The atmosphere he’s created here, he’s brought the pleasure back into coming to work and you approach things with a big smile and energy, he reminds me of Pep, he really does in this sense.
“He makes things really smooth. He’s stubborn but he does things his own way.”
“Thomas lives football. He has this passion, this desire to want to know everything, to get better,” Guardiola said when he was at Bayern, where he enjoyed some memorable tactical battles against Tuchel’s Dortmund.
“He’s 24 hours a day thinking about his team, the opponents, football generally. I like that about him. Thomas and I understand each other. We have the same passion for the game.”
The respect goes both ways.
Thomas Tuchel: "It is always something special to measure yourself against the best and Pep Guardiola is the best" pic.twitter.com/c2alxyuRrU
— Richard Kwaku Yeboah (KY)🥁🎙️ (@KYeboah99) May 21, 2016
“Tuchel is a coach in Wenger’s own image: a cerebral, multilingual workaholic obsessed with diet, match stats and beautiful football,” Kuper wrote in an ESPN profile of Tuchel.
No, the NBA legend hasn’t said anything on the record about the German coach (that we know of), but Tuchel used one of Jordan’s famous quotes when trying to motivate his players after a painful defeat:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I have been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”