His latest Sports sky columnist, Paul Merson discusses Chelsea’s decision to sack Thomas Tuchel and why he believes the appointment of Zinedine Zidane would make more sense than a move to Brighton manager Graham Potter.
Tuchel was sacked on Wednesday following a defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League opener of the season and a rough start to their Premier League campaign.
The decision comes after Chelsea spent a record amount in the summer transfer window with Tuchel as a key part of the decision-making process under new owner Todd Boehly.
The decision to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was attributed to Tuchel’s close working relationship at Borussia Dortmund but that did not hold the German.
Read on for Magic Man’s thoughts on that decision and what he has to say about Chelsea prioritizing Potter over coaches with more experience at the highest levels of the game…
The sacking of Tuchel surprised me after Aubameyang
I didn’t see it coming. They won the other day. They beat West Ham with a score of 2-1. Yes, they passed their luck with VAR but it was still a win. Then they went to Zagreb, which wasn’t the easiest place to get to, played a few fringe players and were defeated. But there are five games left in that Champions League group stage.
Honestly, they brought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in place of Thomas Tuchel. They didn’t bring him in for any other reason. Now Tuchel is gone. I just don’t get it. Why did you buy Aubameyang and then get rid of Tuchel?
People tell me it’s already in production but if it’s already in production why would you bring in a player because the current manager tells you he worked with him before and know him? I don’t think any other manager would be excited about Aubameyang.
Any other manager who comes in can easily say they don’t want him. Tuchel has spent £200m on players and now has to have someone else work with them.
Chelsea may regret sacking an elite manager
There are not too many elite managers around the world. Chelsea had one. He won the Champions League. Top teams are managed. To me, he was an elite manager and they let one go.
I saw Tottenham this season being torn apart by Wolves in the first half the other week. They came out in the second half and only one team won that was Tottenham. Because he is an elite manager, he changes things around. He saw it.
You need an elite manager to produce elite players, in my opinion. You shouldn’t go and buy a racehorse for a million pounds and get racehorses from the local stables to train it.
Potter is more suitable for the job at Man Utd
I like Potter. I think he is a good manager. Outside of Manchester City, the best team I saw at Stamford Bridge last season was Brighton. They couldn’t believe it. Potter makes the team better. He improves the players.
But is that the job at Chelsea? I think he can get the Manchester United job. There are more young players at Manchester United and it needs a bit of a rebuild. What needs rebuilding at Chelsea? Each player is a player worth £50 million.
These are international players with millions of caps between them. You just need to take care of them. You don’t have to teach them the game. It’s horses for course.
Potter will find players and make them better. He is a project manager. Give him five years and he’ll rip it off. That is not the philosophy of Chelsea. Chelsea’s philosophy is to go out and buy the best players. I just don’t see that at Chelsea. He could lose his job in a year.
The Chelsea way, how it works, how long will you work? They won the Champions League last year. They have lost two national cup finals on penalties this year.
Zidane is more in line with Chelsea’s philosophy
For me, the only person who ticked the box was Zinedine Zidane. He is a legend. No one is questioning him. He is one of the best players in the world and he has managed Real Madrid. He has managed the best players.
He’s not a manager who wants to stay five years around and build a project, he just wants it now. He’s not going to build a team. He wanted a team that was already full of superstars. Everyone will listen to him.
For me, Zidane fits that. The way they work on the basis of a few years.
You have to remember that Tuchel lost two penalty shootouts last season – not his fault – against an unbelievable team. He had won the Champions League a year before that. Now he is no longer working.
You can’t give it to Graham Potter for 5 years and tell him to build something. It’s not that job. That is the job of Zinedine Zidane. He will settle down in two years. If he doesn’t win anything before then he’ll be the first to say he’ll go on.
Potter over Rodgers shows that timing is key
Brighton just scored five goals, played cute football and looked like the Harlem Globetrotters. But I also remember when he was booed last year. They went crazy. They couldn’t win a game or score a single goal. It’s time.
It’s all about timing. Who is doing well at the moment? Honestly, if Leicester were second in the table right now, Brendan Rodgers would go to Chelsea. If Rodgers had started this season better than Potter he would have been a no-brainer.
He missed the Champions League with Leicester twice on the final day of the season, finishing eighth and winning an FA Cup final. He will be the biggest shooting ever. He has managed at a big club so he can deal with big players.
Potter will go from high school to Oxford Uni
It was an unbelievable opportunity for Potter. It may not come again. But he’s going to pull his hair out tonight. I don’t think people realize. He’s not going to make the trolley wheel because it’s a big decision. I feel sorry for him in a way. It was a difficult decision to make.
You are going from one extreme to another. It’s like you’re in high school and then someone tells you you’re going to Oxford University tomorrow. You will think, ‘I haven’t worked at that level before, I’m not ready for that.’
He is from Sweden and now he is in Brighton. They lost to Fulham last week, which I think is a shock but you don’t hear a lot about that. No one is crazy, right? Chelsea beat Leeds and it was a messy situation. That’s the difference.
He has all of that to come.