Chelsea embarked upon a new era on Wednesday evening when new manager Thomas Tuchel stepped into the Stamford Bridge dugout for the first time.
Barely 24 hours after being unveiled as Frank Lampard’s replacement, the 47-year-old German sent his side into Premier League battle with Wolves to launch his Stamford Bridge mission with a frustrating 0-0 draw.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how his evening went.
Tuchel is renowned for rotating his players, but eyebrows were raised when he left Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham, who scored a hat-trick in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round victory over Sky Bet Championship Luton, sitting on the bench. He later revealed, having admitted it was “unfair” to base his judgement on just one training session, he had opted for experience after drafting skipper Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Olivier Giroud into his first starting line-up.
Lampard repeatedly tinkered with his system as he sought to get the best out of the players at his disposal, settling largely on a 4-3-3 formation after flirting with 3-4-3, although the Blues lined up in a 4-2-3-1 against the Hatters. His successor opted for three at the back ahead of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy – Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Rudiger – with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell operating as wing-backs. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were asked to provide the cover in midfield with Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech providing the support for lone striker Giroud.
With his team lacking penetration in their hunt for the opening goal against a Wolves side defending deep and in numbers, Tuchel finally made his move with just 14 minutes remaining when he sent on Christian Pulisic and Abraham for Chilwell and Giroud. Pulisic’s arrival saw Hudson-Odoi move to the left to accommodate the newcomer on the right. They were joined six minutes later by Mount as Ziyech made way.
Tuchel was all smiles as he conducted his pre-match interviews, admitting the last few days had been something of a whirlwind. He emerged from the tunnel after his team wrapped in a Chelsea coat and woollen hat and was greeted warmly by opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo following Wolves’ arrival before taking his seat. After kick-off, he was animated in the technical area as he passed on information with Chilwell and Hudson-Odoi among the early beneficiaries. The manager’s frustration grew as time wore on and he had his head in his hands when Chilwell skied a 61st-minute attempt over the bar before he was left wondering what might have been when keeper Rui Patricio saved from Hudson-Odoi late on.