Can he tame the shrew? Tuchel and PSG – a match made in heaven (maybe)

In a couple of weeks the internet will be rife with articles about Thomas Tuchel taking over at Paris Saint-Germain. To be fair, it has been that for a couple of months, now.

They are – and will be – about how Tuchel is a tactical genius, how he switched system at Dortmund, how he raised Aubameyang to super star and Julian Weigl to the promising midfielder nobody understood like he did. He will be called one of the most accoladed young managers in European football although he only has one piece of actual silverware to his name, the DFB Pokal (German cup) in 2017, but promise and potential shown in his coaching times at Mainz and Dortmund undoubtedly shine in his future.

Few if any will feel the need to dig deeper into his badly timed departure from Mainz, and not many more will dwell longer on his unceremonius leaving from Dortmund than it takes to spell „Watzke“ with a derisive undertone.

Tuchel is promise, Tuchel is the future, Tuchel is bling. Him to PSG is a match made in heaven.

Let‘s look at the whys and hows.

Whether fans like it or not, Tuchel is practically a nobody in international football. He has coached two Bundesliga clubs and none of them was Bayern Munich. With the second one, Borussia Dortmund, he has won the national cup and received the as yet un-awarded title of „best runner-up in Bundesliga history“. He managed a notorious Bundesliga-midfielder (Mainz 05) to reach the Europa League play offs twice in 2012 and 2014 (his second successor Martin Schmidt took the club to direct qualification two years later) and he displayed a striking talent to make people either love or hate him which shows no sign of diminishing to this very day. He left Mainz 05 flatly breaking his contract and consequently spent one year at the sidelines because the club refused to bow to his undisputable talent and just let him decide when and how to terminate responsibilities. His spell at Dortmund was strictly speaking an impressive success and why the „Schwarzgelben“ from Northrhine-Westphalia decided to not extend his contract is subject to much speculation even one year later. Meanwhile in Paris one of the super-egos Tuchel will measure his own to, Angel Di Maria, allegedly reacted „Tuchel who?“ when asked about his possible new boss.

What did the Emir of Qatar have in mind when he, as sources report, threw his personal authority into the gamble for a successor to hapless Unai Emery and decided on the German?

Even at Mainz 05 Tuchel wasn‘t just „Herr Tuchel“. He was TTT, „Trainer Thomas Tuchel“, and the three Ts looked like a brand whenever they appeared in articles or postings on social media. Tuchel is made to be just that, a brand, and if nothing else THIS makes him perfect for PSG. But there is much else.

Because the lean former defender who made it to eight appearences in the 2. Bundesliga for Stuttgarter Kickers, has the makings of a do-or-die superstar manager like only Jose Mourinho can boast to be now.

1. He is himself. And he‘ll stay just like that, thank you very much. He took over at Mainz from Klopp-successor Jörn Andersen, who after only playing – and losing- one game in the cup with the Zero-Fivers, had to leave before the season 2009-10 had even begun. Tuchel had been coaching the club‘s under 19s and footballing Germany was every bit with Angel Di Maria back then. „Tuchel who?“ And while Andersen was weighed and found wanting compared to his predecessor Jürgen Klopp, Tuchel never showed any sign of being intimidated by the steps he had to fill. He wasn‘t „the new Klopp“, he was TTT.

2. He‘s got a bite. Both, Klopp and Tuchel, at Mainz and Dortmund were well-known for not hiding their temper either at the sidelines or at a press conference. Tuchel smellled conspiracies among referees against his team because of his outspoken demeanour  or even suspected people had „a problem with him“ and made his team suffer for that. He even went as far as announcing he‘d „do a report“ on a certain referee he felt hard done by. But while Jürgen Klopp managed to look like a lovable excited Bearded Collie in such scenes, Tuchel‘s aggressive attacks revealed personal involvement. This people stood between him and his goal, and they‘d do so at their peril.

3. He wants to win. Now that‘s something every football manager should name first when asked what he thinks are his strong points, but again with Tuchel it‘s different. He REALLY wants to win. All the time. Everywhere. And if he feels there‘s nothing left to win for him in a situation, he‘ll up and leave. Like he did at Mainz. And was surprised people held it against him. The urge to win and with a vengeance came to placid little Mainz 05 as a surprise, too. In 2010-11, his best season at Mainz, when players like Lewis Holtby, Ádám Szalai and Andre Schürrle, now well-known names internationally, tornadoed through opposing boxes, a term was coined Mainz followers still secretly long for: Überfallfußball. Assault-football. It was no coincidence the players quoted above were called „The Bruchweg Boys“, after they celebrated by imitating a rock band in a smashing win against TSG Hoffenheim in October 2010. There was music in the game Tuchel let play.

4. He‘s a genius. He really is. Players are reported to have said you need a high school degree (this is a lot harder in Germany) if you want to train under Tuchel. They came back from training saying „the coach is amazing!“ and the next time „nobody understands a word he says.“ Not everybody could flourish that way and Tuchel‘s way of communicating – or rather his refusal to do so- has been mentioned frequently by those who didn‘t. He wasn‘t one to mix with players. His position in truly napoleonic fashion was an elevated spot at the side of the training ground. Arms folded he would watch over his realm and send out his assistants to prune and clip according to his command. His tactical overwiew, his ability to sense potential in a player and urge him to do so, too, enabled him to do what was crucial for a formation club like Mainz 05 and highly beneficial for a club on the rise to higher accolades like BVB: bring out the very best in a player and a club.

Casualties notwithstanding.

All these four aspects make Thomas Tuchel an aspiring manager for a European giant in the making like PSG.

They do not necessarily make him an easy character to deal with. People who had to at Mainz and Dortmund bear witness to the fact.

So, with all this in mind, several outcomes display themselves given PSG authorities will announce the man from Krumbach new manager in Paris on May 19 (or shortly after).

Tuchel will be allowed ( and financially enabled) to build a squad according to his preferences and be given free rein with academy talents and the likes of Presnel Kimpembe, Christopher Nkunku, Alec Georgen, Lorenzo Callegari, Jonathan Ikone and, last but not least, Timopthy Weah may be the future stars at Parc de Princes with a UCL final to their names within three years.

Tuchel will fall out with the French Press before September is over, will face Nasser Al Khelaifi after a game and demand he leave the dressing room ASAP and have a mutiny at his hands media won‘t have dared to imagine in their wildest dreams.

Be that as it may, he will neither think nor act within ordinary limits. He never did in his career as a manager, so far. Not because he revels in breaking limits, but because he likes to set them by himself.

Whatever he will do with capricious and somehow spoiled PSG, it will be highly interesting and very probably equally highly entertaining.

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Angela Roemelt, born in 1963, is a Catholic theologian, but her first religion is football. Raised on the stands of the now legendary Düsseldorf Rheinstadion and the equally legendary Mönchengladbach Bökelberg, the mother-of-four, practicing house wife and published author ("111 Gründe, die Seleção Brasileira zu lieben", Verlag Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2016, regular contributions to @Unusualefforts) now divides her passion between Bundesliga darlings Mainz 05 and Ligue 1 juggernauts Paris Saint-Germain. Because... Variatio delectat, you know?

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