‘Perfectionist’ Thomas Tuchel pitching Chelsea’s path to glory ahead of Champions League final with obsessive coach known to place tactics, the opposition and even the field of play under his microscope
- Thomas Tuchel has been called a ‘perfectionist’ before Champions League final
- Chelsea boss Tuchel has been known to scrutinise tactics and even the pitch
- The end result is an obsessive manager who likes to have a say in every decision
- Estadio do Dragao likely to face his stern examination before Saturday’s clash
Lawn-mowers in Porto have never chuntered under such scrutiny.
Just ask Christian Heidel – the man who, in 2009, gave Tuchel his first senior manager’s job at German side Mainz 05.
Thomas Tuchel has been described as a ‘perfectionist’ before the Champions League final
‘Thomas is an absolute perfectionist. That concerns every aspect of his job – every training has to be perfect, every game has to be perfect,’ says Heidel. ‘He plays the game through in his head before and expects it to be perfect.’
Tactics, opposition analysis, and even grass go under his microscope. ‘We were on a training camp in Austria and we had a training match against Olympiacos. Thomas was really looking closely at the lawn – he was basically measuring the height, sniffing the grass, paying so much attention,’ continues Heidel.
‘He was so thrilled about this particular pitch that he wanted me to transfer the groundsman to Mainz.
‘The next day the groundsman called me and said, “I heard that we’re going to have some talks about a contract”.’ He stayed put in the end. But Heidel shouldn’t have been surprised by his manager’s gumption.
Tuchel has been known to scrutinise tactics, the opposition and even the grass before games
He had already nurtured a young Jurgen Klopp and by Tuchel’s arrival, Mainz’s sporting director had decided everything should orbit around the coach.
‘It’s important to let them become who they are,’ says Heidel. ‘Give them freedom to be themselves and to make mistakes. Don’t punish them right away.
‘Give them trust and have trust in their development. I believe Thomas really enjoyed this and this helped him develop as a coach and become who he is.’
The result? An obsessive manager who wants a say in every decision and who plots his players’ every movement. No wonder Tuchel is so combustible on the touchline and has a reputation for butting heads. ‘Everybody is lucky that he usually wins more games than he loses,’ says Heidel.
Obsessive Tuchel wants a say in every decision at clubs and has a reputation for butting heads
‘If there is a loss, it actually pains him a lot. It’s almost like physical pain to him because he’s so invested in the game. He will not so much blow up but rather analyse every little detail of the game to find out why his plan didn’t work.
‘Jurgen, who is one of my close friends, is a people whisperer – he puts a spell on his players. But Thomas, despite his reputation, is kind of the same.
‘He clashed with more players but even then the team would have followed him into any battle – they were devoted to him. Jurgen, Thomas and Pep Guardiola work close to absolute perfection.’
Heidel first met Tuchel in 2008, when he was interviewing for Mainz’s Under 19 role.
He made an immediate impression and, a year later, Heidel promoted Tuchel to first-team boss – in place of Jorn Andersen who had just earned Mainz promotion to the Bundesliga.
Tuchel made an immediate impression at Mainz after interviewing for their Under 19 vacancy
The Estadio do Dragao (pictured) will face a tough examination from Tuchel before the final
‘I called Thomas and I said: “Listen, the day has come – you will be the head coach of the professionals starting tomorrow”,’ recalls Heidel.
Tuchel asked for time to consider the offer, eventually accepting in the middle of the night.
‘I do not know anybody who knows more about football,’ adds Heidel. ‘We were once sitting on the team bus and there was a documentary about Guardiola.
‘They showed a map that looked like some sort of knitting pattern. But it was a pass pattern of Guardiola’s players and Thomas studied it for two hours.’
Expect the Estadio do Dragao pitch to face similar examination.