According to multiple reports, Thomas Tuchel will soon be announced as the new Paris St. Germain head coach. What can the French side expect from the complex former Borussia Dortmund head coach?
Nearly a year since Thomas Tuchel was fired as Borussia Dortmund head coach, the 44-year-old is reportedly close to returning to the dugout — and that is an exciting prospect.
The young coach who, like Jürgen Klopp, got the most out of a largely unknown Mainz team, really made his mark when he became Borussia Dortmund's head coach.
In his first season in charge the club finished as the best runners-up in Bundesliga history, a feat all the more impressive considering the disheveled nature of the side after the final year under Klopp. Tuchel's tactical approach was designed to get his players to deliver some of the most exciting football possible, and on their best days, his team justified all of the comparisons with Pep Guardiola.
Tuchel also has a knack for player development. Ousmane Dembele arrived as a rising star, but left a devastatingly good player. Christian Pulisic has been nurtured by many at Dortmund, but was handed more responsibility well under Tuchel. And then there's Julian Weigl, who became such a key player under Tuchel, but since the coach's departure, the holding midfielder has lost his way somewhat.
Culture is key
And yet, after winning the German Cup last season, Tuchel was gone. While there were no question marks about whether he could develop a team or its individuals, there were many about his methods.
Some of the senior members in the team clashed with him. He fell out with now-Arsenal scout Sven Mislintat to the extent the scout was eventually banned from the training ground. But it was his relationship with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke that perhaps proved most damaging. Tuchel was unhappy that Dortmund had lost key players, and that recruitment and squad planning wasn't right. And more and more often that discontent from both sides was made public.
Some of Tuchel's arguments are understandable. Dortmund's desire to challenge for trophies and yet continually sell their best players is a contradiction. Issues such as communication and trust are a two-way street and the fact that what should have remained private so often became public will not have done Tuchel's standing any good. The Bavarian native is an intense character who clearly thinks highly of himself, and that is often a difficult combination to handle.
Tuchel craves control
Tuchel, often characterized as being cold, was believed by parts of the BVB fan base to have never really identified with the club during his time there, living up to his nickname of "the professor" too much. And yet his support of his players when their lives were attacked on their way to a Champions League game on April 11, 2017 was admirable. He was furious his side had to play just a day later, and later admitted to hardly being able to read Shinji Kagawa's blog on the subject without crying.
For all of Tuchel's sporting expertise, the long public dispute between himself and the Dortmund board remains a stain (as does his tantrum-like departure from Mainz). The circumstances were extraordinary, but they were nevertheless handled poorly and left everyone involved looking worse for wear.
There's an argument that Tuchel's future success relies on just how much control he'll have. In a sporting sense, he is an excellent appointment for a top club, but his prickly personality is prone to friction. Will his communication be clear enough? Will there be enough trust? If those questions can be answered in the affirmative, Thomas Tuchel has every chance of not only taking a top club to the next level but also reaching it himself.
His decision to turn down Bayern Munich because he reportedly lost patience with the club's bosses for dillydallying shows that his own stock hasn't fallen during his time away from the game. It seems it won't be long before he gets the opportunity to prove that this is with good reason.