Thomas Tuchel’s footballing philosophy is well known, but what of Tuchel the man? Our new boss has revealed what he likes to do on a day off and also explained some of the important factors that drive his decision making in life and in work…
Read about Thomas Tuchel’s background and you will quickly find reports of a lifelong obsession with football dating back to his days growing up in the small Bavarian town of Krumbach.
‘My childhood was about football, football, football, but it was also normal,’ says Tuchel. He loved tennis, handball, indeed any sport involving a ball, but it was football at which he excelled, and around which his life has revolved ever since he entered adulthood.
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His playing career stunted by injury, Tuchel entered coaching earlier than most and quickly rose through the ranks. He took over at Mainz in 2009 and has not looked back.
‘I learned on this job, being a manager at the highest level for more than a decade now, that you need time off,’ explains Tuchel, who for obvious reasons has not had much of that since landing in London on Tuesday.
‘You need to switch your brain off at some point. You cannot overthink everything and you cannot control everything. It’s a game where mistakes happen, where things happen by accident. You have to accept that.
‘I’m not the guy who thinks he can treat a player better than the physiotherapist, who thinks he can do the kit better than the kit guys, or drive the bus better than the bus driver. I’m not that guy. I’m the guy for the dressing room, and for the tactics, and to bring the players into the mood so they are competitive.
‘I’m very happy to leave everybody to their responsibility. I love to work in a nice environment where it is possible to work and be friendly, and not confuse it with not being competitive or focused. It’s on me as the head coach to live up to these principles.’
Tuchel’s recent dismissal from Paris Saint-Germain, and indeed the end of his time at Borussia Dortmund, have been put down in large part to disagreements with those clubs’ hierarchies. He says it is an area of his character he is working on, and he is confident the set-up at Chelsea will smoothen the decision-making process.
‘It was pure passion, and also some principles that your word is your word,’ he explains of the PSG discord. ‘I trust the word of a man. I rely on words.
‘What I like now is I am self-aware. This is a thing to improve and to be more relaxed, and maybe not too stubborn in my beliefs. The structure I find here in the club is very clear, very easy to understand. There are not many people who make the decisions.
‘It’s on me now as the head coach to adapt and on the other hand to make my opinion clear, and to give analysis of what I see, what I feel, and where we can still improve.’
And what of that time when he can switch his brain off? Covid-19 restrictions mean he is limited in what he can do right now, like the rest of us, but that has not stopped him picturing a perfect London day out.
‘I would go for a walk, and then to a little cafe, and then go to a bookstore and read a good book, and then have dinner. Maybe the next free day is in 2022 and maybe it’s possible then, we will see!
‘Right now in my personal situation I would prefer to go home and see my family. I love to be around my family. That would be my perfect day right now, but like everybody else we have to accept the rules and the situation.’