Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he questioned the decision of Chelsea’s board to sack Frank Lampard last season when he was interviewed for the vacant managerial position.
The German succeeded the Blues legend at the helm at Stamford Bridge following a slow start to the 2020-21 campaign, and delivered a shock Champions League triumph just four months later.
Yet speaking ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash with Arsenal, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss has admitted that he had reservations about the role – and whether the club had got it right in parting ways with Lampard.
“I actually said to the board, ‘are you sure of doing this? Because they will not like you. Maybe he deserves more time’,” Tuchel told Sky Sports News.
“When I think of Chelsea I think about Frank Lampard, John Terry, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba. I think about [Lampard] in the very first moment because he embodies everything that Chelsea is.
“[It’s] hard work; [an] aggressive player, [a] big leader, but at the same time a normal guy on the pitch and such a team player. [He’s] a true, true legend.
“But I understood the choice was more or less made and it was take it or leave it. I hoped for a fair chance with the players because when you step in, not everybody [is] happy.”
Having taken charge of Chelsea with the Blues in the knockout stages of the Champions League and slipping towards mid-table in the Premier League, hopes were low for immediate success under the German’s watch.
But having taken them to the biggest prize in European club football alongside another top-four finish, Tuchel is aware that there will be more pressure upon his side to perform this season.
“We raised the bar,” he added. “It creates expectations, it creates demands, but I hope we don’t get affected by it too much from outside.
“I know what I demand from myself, which is always the highest level. I know what the team can produce – they are really ambitious, really competitive.
“I think we need to be honest, to accept that we were fourth last season, so we have to close the gap to Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City.
“After a big success, you have to start from scratch. This is what top-level sports is all about and this is what we love it for.”