Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel (German pronunciation: [ˈtoːmas ˈtʊxl̩, – tuː-];[2] born 29 August 1973) is a German professional football coach and former player who most recently managed Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain. Revered for his tactical knowledge and style of play, Tuchel's coaching career has also been characterized by his fractious relationships with his employers.[3]

Thomas Tuchel
2019-07-17 SG Dynamo Dresden vs. Paris Saint-Germain by Sandro Halank–175.jpg
Tuchel with Paris Saint-Germain in 2019
Personal information
Date of birth (1973-08-29) 29 August 1973 (age 47)
Place of birth Krumbach, West Germany
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)[1]
Position(s) Defender
Youth career
1979–1988 TSV Krumbach
1988–1992 FC Augsburg
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1994 Stuttgarter Kickers 8 (1)
1994–1998 SSV Ulm 69 (2)
Total 77 (3)
Teams managed
2007–2008 FC Augsburg II
2009–2014 Mainz 05
2015–2017 Borussia Dortmund
2018–2020 Paris Saint-Germain
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Born in Krumbach, Tuchel's playing career ended at age 25, as a result of a chronic knee cartilage injury, and in 2000, he began his coaching career, working for the youth teams at VfB Stuttgart for five years. In 2009, following a successful one-year period at FC Augsburg II, he was hired by newly promoted Bundesliga club Mainz 05.

Tuchel guided Mainz to league stability during his five seasons at the club, and gained plaudits for his brand of energetic, attacking football. He also cultivated a reputation for having a focus on promoting youth players.[4] He departed Mainz in 2014 as a result of financial disputes, and in 2015, was appointed at fellow Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, where he won the DFB-Pokal before being dismissed in 2017.[5]

He was then appointed at French club Paris Saint-Germain in 2018, where he won two league titles, including a domestic quadruple in his second season, and guided the club to its first ever UEFA Champions League final.[6] However, Tuchel was dismissed in 2020.[7]

Playing careerEdit

Born in Krumbach, Tuchel starred as a member of local club, TSV Krumbach, and moved to the youth academy at FC Augsburg in 1988. However, he never appeared for the first team, being released soon after he turned 19, where he was quickly granted the opportunity to play in the 2. Bundesliga for Stuttgarter Kickers in 1992.

He played eight games during the 1992–93 season. After the 1993–94 season, he was dropped from Kickers' first team, and joined Regionalliga Süd side SSV Ulm. Playing as a central defender, Tuchel made 69 appearances for the club until being forced to retire in 1998, at age 25, after suffering a knee cartilage injury.[8]

Coaching careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Tuchel began his coaching career in 2000, as youth team coach at VfB Stuttgart, aiding in the development of future first team players, namely Mario Gómez and Holger Badstuber. In 2005, he returned to Augsburg, who were impressed with his ability at coaching youth players, and was appointed youth team co-ordinator.[9] Tuchel held the position for three years, eventually transitioning into management after being offered the position as first team coach at Augsburg II for the 2007–08 season.[10] With Augsburg II, Tuchel coached a team that included Julian Nagelsmann, himself an injury prone defender, who transitioned into a coaching career after Tuchel instructed him to scout for the club in 2008.[11]

Mainz 05Edit

Tuchel's time as the coach of Augsburg II impressed many top-level German clubs, and he moved to Bundesliga club Mainz 05 in 2009, taking over from Jürgen Klopp, who left for Borussia Dortmund.[12] Tuchel, being promoted into the position after acting as a youth coach at Mainz for the previous 12 months, signed an initial two-year contract.[13]

The challenge of sustaining Mainz as a newly-promoted Bundesliga club was difficult, as Tuchel inherited a squad of sub-standard quality that was ill-equipped for top-level football, and he was given limited money to spend.[12] He nevertheless relished the prospect of conducting business in the transfer market, and enjoyed freedom to incorporate players in order to build a squad to his liking.[14] The composition of the squad was seen in Tuchel's tactical approach at the club, as despite possessing technically inferior players, he instructed them to utilize long distribution and focus on pressing off the ball, typically overloading one portion of the opposition half in order to create less space to generate counter-attacking opportunities, as relentless high-pressure would create chances by dispossessing or forcing errors from the opposition.[15] This worked well in his first season at Mainz, and Tuchel enjoyed a strong league start, eventually guiding the club to a respectable 9th-placed finish, while also creating a team that housed promising youth players adept at attacking football, such as Ádám Szalai and André Schürrle.[16]

 
Tuchel at Mainz 05 in 2014

Tuchel sought to progress this philosophy in the following campaign, with the arrivals of young German playmaker Lewis Holtby, as well as imposing Austrian full-back Christian Fuchs. Both players allowed him to address major squad deficiencies from the previous season, where Mainz often saw an inability to break down defensively-minded teams, while also having limited attacking success from the left-flank.[14] This allowed the club to enjoy a perfect start to the season, enjoying seven wins in their first seven games, including an away victory over Bayern Munich. Tuchel eventually led the team to a fifth-placed finish, with Fuchs and Holtby contributing with eight league-assists, as the club improved by 11 points to qualify for the third-qualifying round of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League.[17]

Despite their stern efforts, Mainz were unable to juggle the requirements of both domestic and European competition, slipping to 13th-placed finishes the following two seasons, while also losing both Schürrle and Szalai to domestic rivals. Tuchel, however, was able to replace them with addition of forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, while also changing goalkeeper, a problem position for the club, with the promotion of Loris Karius. Tuchel also worked extensively with midfield youth product Yunus Mallı, who became capable of playing multiple roles within the midfield, as well being able to operate as a second-striker or center-forward.[18] This allowed the team to transition into a more defensively cohesive and purposeful unit from the purely press-based mindset seen previously, with play now consistently running through the partnership exhibited by Mallı and Choupo-Moting. Tuchel was also able to transition the side into being able to play from the back, due to Karius' passing and distributing abilities.[19] After a strong finish to the season, Tuchel extended his contract to remain with the club for another two seasons.[20]

In what would turn out to be his final season with the club, Tuchel sought to expand the dynamic of the team, hoping to create a more unpredictable outfit. He bought in Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki to partner Choupo-Moting, while also acquiring defensive midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger for a reported €1.1 million.[21] Baumgartlinger, now partnering Mallı in midfield, allowed the team to retain their cohesive shape from the previous seasons, while also managing to create a base for which the team could incorporate more possession retention.[19] This approach reaped rewards for the team, with Mainz finishing 7th, qualifying for the group stages of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. Okazaki also enjoyed a prolific season, hitting 15 in the league.[22]

Despite approaches by Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen for his services in the latter-half of the 2013–14 season, Tuchel remained until the end of the campaign, with the assumption a successful season would allow for larger funds to be made available in order to progress the squad.[23] After it became apparent, however, that these funds would be in limited supply, Tuchel asked to be released from his contract prematurely, later stating "I couldn't see how we could reinvent ourselves once more the coming summer."[5][24] Mainz initially refused to release him from his contract, but they eventually allowed him to leave on 11 May 2014.[23]

Tuchel concluded his Mainz career with a record of 72 wins, 46 draws, and 64 losses, from 182 games, with a win percentage of 39.56%.[25]

Borussia DortmundEdit

In April 2015, coach Jürgen Klopp announced that he would leave Borussia Dortmund following the 2014–15 season. Klopp felt his position at the club had become untenable, and he sought change after a disappointing 7th-placed league finish to the campaign.[26] Dortmund, inquiring over the availability of various coaches, quickly decided on Tuchel, eager to incorporate a similar press-based footballing philosophy made a club trademark under Klopp, whom Tuchel thus replaced for a second time in a row.[13][27] Shortly thereafter, he officially assumed the role as the club's new head coach on 19 April 2015, returning to the game after over a year out of management, signing a three-year deal.

Tuchel quickly set to revitalizing the team, a task made easier as Dortmund's financial situation and player ability contrasted Mainz's.[28] He conducted his transfer business early in the window, allowing the departures of nine players, while overseeing the acquisition of German midfielders Gonzalo Castro and Julian Weigl from Bayer Leverkusen and 1860 Munich, respectively. Both became the fulcrum of the system Tuchel deployed at the club, as he aimed to replicate the dynamic offense displayed during the final season of his tenure at Mainz, where he encouraged a more rotational system of passing.[28] Castro and Weigl, who were adapted from defensively-minded midfielders to a box-to-box midfielder and deep-lying playmaker respectively, allowed Tuchel to experiment with various formations with a solid base at the centre of the park. Alongside their use of pressing and pace, the team were able to transition from multiple systems with relative ease throughout the campaign, which saw them enjoy strong domestic success by finishing runners-up in the Bundesliga, which included a run of 11 consecutive wins to begin the season.[29] By also possessing adept attacking midfielders in Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Tuchel was able to utilize their creative abilities to open up pockets of space between the lines, where forwards and late runners from midfield would often sprint into, to score the team's goals.[4] However, Tuchel's debut season at Borussia Dortmund ended trophyless, despite an appearance in the 2016 DFB-Pokal Final, in which they lost to Bayern Munich on penalties. The team also suffered elimination at the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Europa League at the hands of Liverpool, who were now coached by Klopp.[30] The campaign was also notable for further promotions of youth talent, with American teenager Christian Pulisic largely starring for the team during the latter stages of the season.[31]

 
Tuchel at a press conference in 2016

In preparation for the following campaign, Dortmund spent heavily on player purchases, with an outlay of over €119 million on eleven entrants, although, much of this was done to offset the departure of core players Mats Hummels, İlkay Gündoğan, and Mkhitaryan, who commanded fees in total of €104 million between them.[32] Tuchel, however, managed to replace them on the versatile output of Ousmane Dembélé, Marc Bartra, and Raphaël Guerreiro, with the latter seeing the most drastic shift in tactical and positional change, often being deployed as a newly converted central midfielder from left-back.[33] Guerreiro, signed following his successful time at UEFA Euro 2016, showcased great dribbling abilities; qualities deemed sparse in midfield. This positional change allowed Guerreiro's potential to be maximized under Tuchel, as he starred in a midfield trident alongside Castro and Weigl, in a system which was both defensively secure, and also provided a greater attacking threat than previously seen.[34] The versatility of Bartra, who played as a right-back and a central defender, combined with the rapid attacking threat of wide-players Dembélé and Pulisic, allowed Dortmund to transition much quicker between systems. This emphasis on pace saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score 56 goals in 63 league appearances under Tuchel.[35] This allowed Dortmund to return to the final of the DFB-Pokal, where Tuchel won his first ever major honor as a coach, as well as the club's first trophy in five years, as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2–1, with goals from both Dembélé and Aubameyang.[36]

Despite the victory, it was to be Tuchel's only honour with the club, as he was fired three days later on 30 May 2017.[37] His tenure as first-team coach was marred with controversy, with a strained relationship with the club's hierarchy, notably CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.[35] Tuchel publicly criticized Watzke after he conceded to UEFA's demand that the club play their Champions League quarter-final first leg match against Monaco on 12 April 2017, one day removed from the team's bus being bombed.[38] He also reportedly expressed discontent over transfer activity, with Watzke sanctioning the departures of Hummels, Gündoğan, and Mkhitaryan, despite guarantees they would not leave. Tuchel also maintained fractured relations with club stalwarts Roman Weidenfeller, Neven Subotić, and Jakub Błaszczykowski, and aimed to replace the trio, which purportedly did not sit kindly with Watzke.[39] Tuchel aimed to sign defender Ömer Toprak in 2016, a move allegedly blocked by Watzke and chief scout Sven Mislintat, the latter of whom was effectively banished from the training ground after an argument with Tuchel.[40] Moreover, the club also chased midfielder Óliver Torres behind Tuchel's back in 2017.[41] Toprak eventually joined the club following Tuchel's departure, while Torres joined Porto.

Tuchel left Dortmund with a record of 68 wins, 23 draws, and 17 defeats in 108 games, with a win percentage of 62.96%.

Paris Saint-GermainEdit

In May 2018, Tuchel signed a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain, replacing Unai Emery.[42]

Tuchel's first foray into the transfer market at a heavyweight was the permanent signing of Monaco forward Kylian Mbappé for an initial fee of €135m on 1 July.[43] Mbappé shone as a member of the team the previous campaign, and was instrumental for the French national team during their win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[42] To offset this large acquisition, and to adhere to UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, Tuchel sanctioned the departure of several players, including perceived first-team players Yuri Berchiche and Javier Pastore,[44][45] as well as promising youngster Gonçalo Guedes.[46] After also generating profits through the sales of other bit-part players,[47][48] the club signed free agent goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on 6 July.[49] A month later, the team signed German defender Thilo Kehrer for €37m,[50] and PSG concluded their activity in the summer transfer market by signing Spanish left-back Juan Bernat for €15m on deadline day,[51] while also reuniting Tuchel with Cameroonian forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.[52] Despite these acquisitions, Tuchel publicly lamented the club's inability to improve at both full-back areas.[53]

Tuchel's first match in charge also yielded his first honor at the club, as PSG defeated Monaco 4–0 to win the Trophée des Champions on 4 August.[54] He also saw victory in his first league game, as the club defeated Caen 3–0 eight days later.[55] After enjoying a brief unbeaten record, Tuchel suffered his first defeat at PSG on September 18, losing 3–2 away to Liverpool in a UEFA Champions League group game.[56] However, by November, Tuchel would break the record for the most wins to start to a domestic league season, as he registered twelve straight victories.[57] The record was later extended to include two additional victories, prior to the club ending its 100% start to the season on 2 December, after PSG drew 2–2 away to Bordeaux.[58] Tuchel then guided Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in the club's Champions League group, with a 4–1 win over Red Star Belgrade on 12 December.[59] By securing victory over Nantes on 22 December, Tuchel also broke the record for most points by Christmas in Ligue 1, with 47 after 17 games eclipsing the record of 45 after 17 set by PSG in the 2015–16 season.

 
Tuchel coaches Paris Saint-Germain in a friendly against Dynamo Dresden in 2019

In January 2019, Tuchel was eliminated from his first competition at PSG, falling to Guingamp on 9 January, in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue. However, he would defeat the same opposition by a margin of 9–0 ten days later in the league. Prior to deadline day, on 29 January, the club delved into the winter transfer market to sign Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes for a rumored fee of €40m.[60] However, these transfers failed to progress the club in Europe, as PSG crashed out of the Champions League in the first knockout round against Manchester United. The club secured a 2–0 victory away from home in the first leg, but lost 1–3 at home, exiting the competition on away goals.[61] With only the league and the Coupe de France to play for, PSG won the former on 21 April, six gameweeks before the end of the season, marking Tuchel's first league title win as a coach.[62] Six days later, Paris Saint-Germain lost the 2019 Coupe de France Final to Stade Rennais on penalties, which featured after a stretch of three consecutive league defeats: PSG's worst showing since 2012.[63]

After the season's end, Tuchel signed a one-year contract extension, scheduled to end in 2021.[64] In his second transfer window, Tuchel strayed from recruiting stars, and instead, pushed for the recruitment of hardworking Spanish midfielders Ander Herrera and Pablo Sarabia, as well as youth prospect Mitchel Bakker.[65][66][67] Meanwhile, the club let go of strong personalities in Buffon, Dani Alves, and Adrien Rabiot, and profited from the sales of several fringe players, including Moussa Diaby, Timothy Weah, and Grzegorz Krychowiak.[68][69][70][71][72] Additionally, the club signed central defender Abdou Diallo from Tuchel's old club Borussia Dortmund, combative midfielder Idrissa Gueye,[73] and completed the transfer of goalkeeper Keylor Navas,[74] as well as a loan move for forward Mauro Icardi, on deadline day.[75] With a number of additional sales, this marked the first transfer window since PSG's takeover by Qatar Sports Investments in 2012 whereby the club has made profit in the transfer market.[76]

 
Tuchel with Kylian Mbappé, who was a regular in Tuchel's team

Tuchel began his second season at PSG by retaining the Trophée des Champions on 3 August 2019, in a 2–1 win over Rennes. He also won his first league game of the season, defeating Nîmes 3–0 at home. However, PSG lost 2–1 against Rennes in the club's second league game.[77] In the club's first game in that season's UEFA Champions League, Tuchel received praise for his tactical setup as PSG defeated thirteen-time winners Real Madrid 3–0 at home; the victory occurred without recognized first-team players Neymar, Edinson Cavani, and Kylian Mbappé.[78] He later guided the team to qualification to the first knockout stage with two group games to spare, following a 1–0 win over Belgian club Club Bruges on 6 November.[79] Just under three weeks later, Tuchel led the club to top spot in their group after securing a 2–2 draw against Real Madrid.[80] The club then embarked on a nineteen match unbeaten run in all competitions, recording a number of high scoring victories; PSG scored six goals against Linas-Montlhéry and Saint-Étienne in the domestic cup competitions in January, while they scored five against Montpellier in the league.[81] Notably, the latter game contained controversy, as Tuchel was seen to be in a heated conversation with Mbappé following his substitution.[82]

On 18 February, the club sustained their first defeat in over three months, losing 2–1 against Tuchel's former club Dortmund in the first leg in the round of 16 in the Champions League.[83] Under a month later, Tuchel guided the club to the last eight, overturning the deficit in a 2–0 victory at home in the second leg.[84] This was the club's first game behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic; this was the reason the domestic league was canceled on 30 April, while their Champions League fixtures, the Coupe de France, and the Coupe de la Ligue finals were postponed.[85][86] PSG returned to competitive football on 24 July, winning the Coupe de France after beating Saint-Étienne 1–0 in the final.[87] The game was marred by Kylian Mbappé suffering an ankle sprain, which ruled him out for three weeks.[88] On 31 July, PSG defeated Lyon 6–5 on penalties in the 2020 Coupe de la Ligue Final to complete a domestic quadruple.[89] On August 12, PSG scored two late goals to beat Atalanta 2–1 in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, marking the club's first appearance in the semi-finals of the competition since the 1994–95 season.[90] In the semi-final, PSG defeated RB Leipzig 3–0 to reach their first ever Champions League final, as well as their first European final since 1997.[91] They would go onto lose the match by a single goal to Bayern Munich on August 23.[92]

In his third transfer window, PSG released a number of players, including club stalwarts Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani.[93][94] Meanwhile, Mauro Icardi's loan was made permanent for €50 million,[95] and the club supplemented this with the loan acquisitions of Alessandro Florenzi, Danilo Pereira, and Moise Kean.[96] PSG began their league title defence with a 1–0 defeat to newly promoted Lens away on 10 September 2020; the club were missing Icardi, Neymar, Mbappé, Keylor Navas, Marquinhos, Leandro Paredes, and Ángel Di María due to COVID-19 protocols or for testing positive for COVID-19.[97] The club went onto lose their second league game by the same scoreline in Le Classique, marking the first time PSG lost their opening two league games since the 1984–85 season. The game became infamous for its disciplinary issues, with 17 cards shown (the most in a single Ligue 1 game in the 21st century), while five were sent off following an injury-time brawl.[98] Tuchel secured the club's first win of the league season by defeating Metz 1–0 on 16 September, although the game was marred by another red card to PSG.[99] This began a streak of 8 straight wins, before succumbing to a 3–2 away defeat to Monaco on 20 November; another game where PSG saw a red card.[100] After only managing to secure 3 more league wins, despite finishing atop their Champions League group, until 23 December, Tuchel was dismissed from Paris Saint-Germain.[101] His firing occurred a day after beating Strasbourg 4–0,[102] surprising many at the club, including assistant coach Zsolt Lőw.[103]

Tuchel's tenure at Paris Saint-Germain was marred by a fractured relationship with the club's hierarchy. In an interview with German television station Sport 1, he said he felt "[more like] a politician in sport" than a coach.[104] These comments, as well as his previous criticism over the club's transfer activity, were condemned by PSG's sporting director Leonardo, who said Tuchel "[must] respect the people above [him]", and labelled the comments as damaging for the club.[105] Tuchel and Leonardo reportedly fell out over the signing of defensive midfielder Danilo Pereira, with the coach requesting a central defender; in response, Tuchel often fielded Pereira as a central defender.[106]

Tuchel departed Paris Saint-Germain with a record of 95 wins, 13 draws, and 19 defeats in 127 games, with the best win percentage in Ligue 1 history (75.6%) and the highest average of points per game (2.37, tied with his predecessor Emery).[107]

TacticsEdit

Tuchel has been praised for his tactical knowledge and flexibility as well as his implementation of innovative training methods.[108] At Paris Saint-Germain, Tuchel primarily played a 4–3–3 with plenty of flair to emphasize the attacking capabilities of wide forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. During the 2018–19 season, the forward line, with Neymar and Mbappé flanking central target man Edinson Cavani, would regularly drop into the half-space or into wide areas.[109] The team's fullbacks would also push up alongside the midfield, in order to attain positional overloads. Simultaneously, this would disrupt attempts to man-mark Neymar and Mbappé, and create space behind the defensive line for the pair to run into.[109]

The team's midfield would see the deepest, defensive midfielder stick close to the central defenders, who would often be joined by another midfielder who can act as a deep-lying playmaker. This roles were largely occupied by Marquinhos and Marco Verratti, respectively. The last remaining midfielder would push forward, to stagger attacks and disrupt defensive structure by overloading one side of the opponent's defensive area.[109] During the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, Ángel Di María and Leandro Paredes were commonly associated with this role. The team also utilize Gegenpressing,[110] a tactic where, after losing possession of the ball, the team immediately attempts to wins it back, rather than regrouping. This ensures PSG coral the opponent onto one side, before switching play quickly to exploit the weaker side.[109] Tuchel has also been noted for his use of man-marking, tasking Ander Herrera to do so on Thiago Alcântara in the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final.[111]

In the 2018–19 season, following injuries to Neymar, Verratti, and Adrien Rabiot, Tuchel sometimes departed from the 4–3–3, to success. In a 4–1 home victory against Stade Rennais in January 2019,[112] PSG lined up in a 4–2–2–2 formation; in possession, one defensive midfielder would drop between the central defenders to create a back three, while the fullbacks pushed forward.[109] This meant the other midfielder would act as a sweeping defensive presence, while the four forwards would stay high and wide, dropping in sporadically to create vertical passing options to break the defensive line. In defense, PSG would retreat to a 5–3–2 formation, and readjust to a 4–4–2 to gegenpress.[109] These changes have led to some criticism, with PSG's move to a 3–5–2 against Lyon leading to a 2–1 loss in February 2019.

Managerial statisticsEdit

As of match played 23 December 2020
Team From To Record
M W D L GF GA GD Win % Ref.
FC Augsburg II 1 July 2007[10] 30 June 2008[10] 34 20 8 6 80 45 +35 058.82 [113]
Mainz 05 3 August 2009[12] 11 May 2014[23] 182 72 46 64 248 288 −40 039.56 [25][114][115][116][117][118]
Borussia Dortmund 29 June 2015[27][28] 30 May 2017[37] 108 68 23 17 245 113 +132 062.96 [119][120][121]
Paris Saint-Germain 14 May 2018[122] 29 December 2020 127 95 13 19 337 103 +234 074.80 [123]
Total 451 255 90 106 910 549 +361 056.54

HonoursEdit

ManagerEdit

Borussia Dortmund

Paris Saint-Germain

ReferencesEdit

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