In football, as in life, it ain’t what you do but the way that you do it that matters.
That wise old maxim, first expressed in song in the 1930s by Sy Oliver and Trummy Young and repackaged for a 1980s audience by Fun Boy Three and Bananarama is now getting a third lease of life in the unlikely hands of Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
Since breezing into Stamford Bridge at the back end of January the German’s record has been extremely impressive; 13 games played, nine wins and nothing to see in the losses column.
The Blues are back on track for Champions League qualification – the main consideration behind replacing Frank Lampard – and in the hat for the quarter-finals of this year’s competition. And this weekend they have a gimme at home to Sheffield United in the last eight of the FA Cup.
And yet, Tuchel cuts such an assured figure that Chelsea could be hurtling towards relegation and you sense it would be difficult to tell from the manager’s calm demeanour.
I suppose, if and when his reign does get a bit more turbulent we will find out but for now, Tuchel appears very pleased with life.
Of course not everything is going according to plan. Chelsea’s strikers still seem to regard scoring goals as an extra-curricular activity they chose not to sign up for, there are several members of a bloated squad – as there were under Lampard – who have become neglected and in need of reassurance and there are still too many performances which have failed to get the blood flowing in this era of perma-televised football.
Tuchel has tended to tweak his line-ups and formations in the manner of peak-era Claudio Ranieri but, while the Italian was derided as the Tinkerman, you suspect the current Chelsea manager could pick goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga at right wing-back and convincingly pass it off as part of a desire to see exactly what he has at his disposal.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke this week of some managers needing trophies to massage their ego but seeing his team consistently make ‘high-ball recoveries’ appears to be the only buffing Tuchel needs to legitimise his work.
For now, that work is going very well. Results are good and Chelsea are building momentum.
That, undoubtedly, is in large part down to the impact Tuchel has had in his relatively short time at the club.
He is a man with a lot of faith in his methods and ideas but that gets you nowhere unless those around you are similarly convinced. So far his players are buying in and Tuchel’s knack of confidently and convincingly looking as if everything is going according to plan is key to that.
Just nine-years-old when Fun Boy Three were flying up the charts in 1982, a young and impressionable Tuchel obviously took their lesson to heart… It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it, that’s what gets results.
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