Roman Abramovich given brutal Jurgen Klopp lesson after Chelsea struggles without Thomas Tuchel


Arno Michels had the rare duty of being Chelsea's leading voice from the dugout as he stood on the touchline at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.

Even if Thomas Tuchel was stuck at home isolating after testing positive for COVID, the wonders of modern technology made communication to the bench pretty easy, and Michels likely relayed those messages to the players in front of him.

But like we have discovered from distant Zoom calls over the past two years, nothing can replicate the impact and sincerity of face-to-face interaction. In our analysis, we can all be guilty of pinning significant weight onto things that probably do not deserve them.

Or, at the very least, we strip a sport of many variables to find a simple conclusion as to why something did or did not happen. Chelsea shouldn't have needed the presence of Thomas Tuchel to play well against League One opposition.

Michels has been with Tuchel since his coaching start at Mainz in 2009 and has followed him through the periods at Borussia Dortmund and PSG before joining Chelsea. This is not only a highly experienced coach but one who innately knows the inner workings of Tuchel and what he demands.

To suggest the players could not perform well against a team 50 places below them without one man would be pretty damning of their mentality. It would also reflect the influence of Tuchel's coaching over the actual quality of the footballers trying to implement his instructions on the pitch.

But given what we saw at Stamford Bridge, it is a fair question to pose if Chelsea is without Tuchel for the Club World Cup semi-final. Saturday's display did lead me back to the beginning of January when Liverpool arrived without their talismanic figure, Jurgen Klopp .

Although Liverpool surrendered a 2-0 lead to an energised Chelsea, the overall level of Liverpool's performance with assistant Pep Lijnders leading things on the touchline was not horrendous. Klopp has significant power at Anfield, given his transformative work since arriving in 2015. But his short absence did not seem overwhelming for his squad. Probably a greater reflection of the buy-in his players have over his methods.

Tuchel, on the other hand, must have been screaming in frustration as he watched a near full- strength Chelsea unconvincingly limp over the line against a team that sat eighth in League One. This could be viewed as a small message to Roman Abramovich of how vital Tuchel is and how hard he would be to replace.

Questions over this squad's mentality were fair game before the Champions League triumph last May, and given the nature of Saturday's performance after a much-needed break, similar concerns will be had. Tuchel needs significant support from his players if this project is going to reap the rewards supporters hope it can.

Part of that is instilling a larger-reaching and more powerful shift in the fragility of the head coaches' position. Shifting more jeopardy onto those who play for him, who know they can be replaced. We will find out in UAE this week how significant Chelsea's worrying display was when they face Al Hilal on Wednesday.

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