JOE COLE puts Thomas Tuchel up there with the Special One.
Tuchel marks one year in charge today and while he is taking a vastly different route, the German looks destined to follow the Portuguese by winning a haul of major trophies.
He has taken the day off on his first anniversary and is at home, yet no doubt with one eye on the day-to-day routine that continues to roll on at Stamford Bridge. He cannot help it.
Meanwhile, his players are all over the globe, some playing World Cup qualifiers, others enjoying five-star downtime in exotic locations with football a distant thought.
Ex-midfielder Cole’s career was transformed when the dynamic duo of Mourinho and owner Roman Abramovich brought instant success to Chelsea and went on from there.
Cole, 40, said: “Barring Mourinho’s first spell, he has had the biggest impact of anyone managing Chelsea. He is universally loved and respected by everyone at the training ground.
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“He is a breath of fresh air. Winning the Champions League is an incredible achievement but it is also about the way he has come in.
“Chelsea is a very successful club but it can be turbulent. A lot of managers can buckle under that pressure — even experienced ones.
“But the way the players have responded to him has been great. You couldn’t have envisaged a better first year in charge. Thomas is a very smart man who recognised the quality players straight away.
“But he also recognised the soul and style of the club; he understands the history of the club. He gets it.”
Tuchel’s most recent day at work was in stark contrast to his first.
Sunday brought an energetic 2-0 win over Tottenham with his team at its highest level for months.
When he flew in to replace sacked Frank Lampard this time last year, the team was ninth and confidence had sagged like a punctured ball.
A heated difference of opinion with fans’ favourite and poster-boy midfielder Mason Mount was the standout event of the first 24 hours.
All three were being dropped for the home game with Wolves the next day as Tuchel wanted experienced heads to avoid any slip-ups on his opening night.
James and Abraham sucked it up.
Mount stood firm then told the new boss, who guided Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final, exactly what he thought of that decision, having been captain of Chelsea in the previous game — an FA Cup victory.
Tuchel blinked, stuck to his guns and walked away. Shaking Mount feared he might never play for the club again.
He came off the bench in that goalless draw against Wolves and is now considered a mainstay of the new Chelsea Tuchel is building.
Tuchel was quick to teach Callum Hudson-Odoi a lesson as, less than a month into his reign, he hauled him off against Southampton — half an hour after sending him on as a sub.
The German claimed the player’s attitude was not right. But a year later, the 21-year-old winger is now an important part of his squad.
It is all about communication with Tuchel and he could not have asked for a more blunt message than that.
The 6ft 4in, one-time barman has been at the low end of life so appreciates its high points. Working in a pub also taught him how to deal with highly animated people.
Chelsea had reservations about him.
His fractious relationships with the management at both Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund put the board on guard and he was appointed with some trepidation after the club’s stormy relationship with former manager, Antonio Conte.
Tuchel uses words as weapons, but to avoid war. According to club insiders, there are no secrets any more.
Previous bosses would cold-shoulder Chelsea’s biggest stars and offer no explanation, causing resentment.
No dialogue is off the record with Tuchel. He endured the tradition of singing a song to the squad, along with his staff, as his welcome initiation and never ducks a question.
Chelsea fans are still to be convinced about his skills in the transfer market.
Romelu Lukaku’s eight goals and public apology for giving a TV interview in which he claimed to be unhappy is not value for money.
Defender Malang Sarr is slowly growing into his place. On-loan midfielder Saul Niguez is hardly regarded as a good signing just yet.
Tuchel speaks his mind like Mourinho and, no doubt, there will be clashes with rival coaches and the people upstairs at Chelsea.
The Special One won five major trophies in his first Blues spell.
Tuchel has a way to go but with Chelsea in next month’s Carabao Cup final and still in the FA Cup and Champions League, it is not outrageous to suggest he will top that.
Cole, who won ten major honours at Stamford Bridge, said: “When I went to Cobham to interview a few players, he came over for a chat and is an impressive guy.
“As an ex-player, sometimes you can go into a club and it can be uncomfortable with certain managers.
“He was very welcoming. It says a lot for his emotional intelligence. Everyone I speak to at the club feels embraced by him. That takes a character who can do that.”
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