Thomas Tuchel has done it – and not even he could have expected it
The words of Thomas Tuchel when he was asked if he would be getting a new deal to stay at Chelsea past the end of next season and after what he has achieved in just five months, he’s earned one.
With Roman Abramovich in attendance in Porto, he cannot fail to have been anything but impressed at what the German head coach has achieved as he delivered the second Champions League crown of the Abramovich era, nine years after the first one in Munich back in 2012.
Tuchel was handed an 18-month deal and with a simple task when replacing Frank Lampard – get in the top four. He has achieved that, just, but he delivered. Now he has also given Abramovich the piece of silverware every elite club owner in the land wants – Old Big Ears itself.
Tuchel has insisted he has never set himself targets but even this, winning the Champions League, must have been beyond his dreams when he was devising tactics to face Wolves on a private jet from Paris to London.
Yet here is standing, standing taller than most and off the back of being in the losing position this time last year in Lisbon with PSG.
The disappointment of the FA Cup final is long forgotten after this.
What Tuchel did with Chelsea’s fans
The Blues fans outsung their City counterparts throughout the game, all 6,500 of them who were the lucky ones to be in attendance. It felt liek a home game at Stamford Bridge for the vast majority of the evening.
The players fed off it and so did Tuchel, who three times was captured whipping the fans up into a frenzy, throwing his arms up in the air and demanding they spur his team on over the line in the second half.
The Blues fans responded and sung their hearts out throughout. There were plenty of chants for Frank Lampard, they won’t forget that it has him that got them out of the group stage and into the competition in the first place.
Maybe they now need to come up with a chant for their new hero – Tuchel.
Incredible N’Golo Kante
Having the talismanic Kante available for the game, Chelsea’s only truly world class player among a team of stars, was always going to be a difference maker and it turned out that way.
While it might seem harsh to focus on one individual when as a collective Chelsea were outstanding on the night, it is hard not to speak about Kante, who added the trophy to his already huge collection that he truly wanted.
The Frenchman was his typical self, basically playing the role of two players in one. An outstanding sliding tackle on Raheem Sterling set the tone and in the second half, he was simply a joy to watch.
Kante won all three of his tackles, wasn’t dribbled past once and had ten ball recoveries, which was more than anyone else on the pitch. It is no surprise that this is the level we expect from Kante, especially in this competition where he has saved his best performances for.
If Kante hadn’t been fit after his hamstring injury, even with Pep Guardiola’s needless tinkering with his team selection, it would have been hard to see past City winning their first crown.
But there is a King in Europe and his home is on the King’s Road – N’Golo Kante.
Thiago Silva’s anguish
The only real downer on the night was seeing Thiago Silva limp off with what looked like a groin injury five minutes before half time.
The Brazilian defender had leapt higher than Phil Foden but seemed to land awkwardly. After a break in playt, Silva carried on for only a minute or so more before he was down again and clearly had to be taken off.
There were no tears but he covered his face with his shirt as he trudged off with the medical staff and didn’t even sit in his seat, preferring just to sit down on the steps.
That didn’t stop him from celebrating at the trophy lift as he boisterously jumped up and down on the stage in the middle of the pitch.