Hi Thomas Tuchel, but Pep Guardiola had a bad selection
When Thomas Tuchel was appointed by Chelsea, their season had lost all of its spark. They were still in the Champions League and FA Cup when Frank Lampard was sacked, but Chelsea had fallen to ninth in the Premier League table.
Qualifying for the Champions League looked tough, let alone winning it. Under these circumstances, Tuchel achieved an astonishing feat.
A year ago, in this exact scenario, Tuchel looked broken. He was forced to watch the final with his leg in plaster, watching Bayern Munich overtake Paris Saint-Germain. This year, Tuchel made up for lost time, a bundle of pent up energy and nerves as he led his Chelsea players like a caffeine-fueled conductor.
In the final 10 minutes in Porto, Tuchel ordered Chelsea supporters to roar their home team.
And it has been a phenomenal season for Chelsea. They started him apparently engaged in a new era in which they would no longer change managers with such haste; Lampard was their answer. They end it up under the grip of their old way of working, but if it ain’t broke, why would you try to fix it? No club associates managerial short-termism with the greedy pursuit of silverware with such astonishing results.
We’re used to Pep Guardiola surprisingly with his team selection, but this time we thought we did. Guardiola had changed his squad so much towards the end of the Premier League season that we thought we could predict the starting XI.
Three ahead, Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan in an attacking midfield with Rodri or Fernandinho offering protection for the defense.
Not even a little. Manchester City had only started one of their 60 appearances this season without Rodri or Fernandinho in the starting camp, but both fell off the bench and started Gundogan as the deepest midfielder.
The plan was to control possession, with Oleksandr Zinchenko stepping in midfield as a reverse full-back when City had the ball.
The goal was the result of a mistake, Zinchenko failing to keep up with Kai Havertz and sending him flawlessly on Ederson. But this individual error does not change the fact that Guardiola was wrong. City had the majority of possession, but it was Chelsea who had the best chances at the break. Sometimes the obvious statement is the right one: It’s harder to stop counterattacks without a waiting midfielder.
There is a misnomer that management at the highest level is easy, but Guardiola can say otherwise. When he was appointed by Manchester City he was keenly aware that his mission was not just to establish a period of national domination (which he pretty much did) but to bring this club to the top of Europe. This is why Sheikh Mansour bought the club.
In previous years, City have been defeated by their own botched mistakes, beaten to the counter by lesser teams in Monaco, Tottenham and Lyon who used fluid, counter-attacking football to break through their defensive line.
This year it seemed so different. City had been in good defensive health and had won 10 of their 11 Champions League games. No team had ever won 11.
And yet, criticism of Guardiola will roar at a higher volume than ever. When you spend the money they have on the players they have, it doesn’t seem inappropriate.
It might have taken until the last game of an otherwise successful season, but it was a sad comeback to Guardiola and a city side that looked psychologically broken as they conceded the first and lost De Bruyne to injury.
The three extra spots given to Gareth Southgate mean he may well take four players capable of playing right-back. The England manager struggled to point out that Trent Alexander-Arnold could play in central midfielder.
And you can see Southgate’s predicament. He has at his disposal Alexander-Arnold, a brilliant attacking right-back who has never played well for his country, Kyle Walker (a Premier League champion), Kieran Trippier (a La Liga champion) and Reece James. (a Champions) Winner of the league).
James was superb in Saturday’s final, bringing together Raheem Sterling but still able to break through and cause Zinchenko problems. With Timo Werner preferring to make his runs down that flank, James’ breaks were vital in creating overlaps which caused problems for City in defense.
A word also for Ben Chilwell, who may have lost his starting place in England to Luke Shaw but who was probably the best player in the final, skillfully chaining Riyad Mahrez and teaming up with Mason Mount when Chelsea did. burst. This is where the winner of Chelsea comes from.
The finals between two clubs from the same country can seem disappointing. The European Cup finals are ideally played between clubs that have not faced each other all season and who may not have met in Europe for several years. These two clubs have now met four times in the past five months.
But it was a thrilling and often thrilling finale. City’s odd formation and attempt to control met Chelsea’s resolve and intention to counter; the first half was brilliant entertainment played at double speed.
The second half was always likely to come back with City pushing and Chelsea trying to hold on, but it was no less intriguing sight.
And we should expect more finals like this. Elite Premier League clubs will not be immune to financial problems after Covid-19, but they are in a better position than most to deal with it.
As Barcelona and Real Madrid falter, Juventus slip and Paris Saint-Germain unable to strike a balance between star players and team cohesion, what will the cost of a repeat of this all-English spectacle next year?
If it’s something like Saturday, bring it on.