Former Aston Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor feels Thomas Tuchel would have been sacked this season but for the turmoil at Chelsea.
Tuchel, 48, arrived at Stamford Bridge in January 2021, guiding the Blues to the Champions League title. The west Londoners finished fourth in the Premier League sand the hope was they would challenge this term. Chelsea sit third in the table with 67 points to their name.
But, heading into Sunday’s fixtures, Liverpool and Manchester City both have 83. It is no disgrace being 16 points behind the top two, with the Reds and City among the best teams ever to play in the English top flight.
And the Stamford Bridge outfit could still pick up silverware as they face Liverpool in the FA Cup final on May 14. Tuchel’s charges reached the EFL Cup final, losing out to the Merseysiders on penalties.
They were beaten 5-4 on aggregate by finalists Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. And, with the Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup already secured, it has clearly been a decent season.
The last few months have been played under the cloud of Roman Abramovich’s sanctions and uncertainty over the club’s ownership. But Agbonlahor did not spare the rod and believes the German has been saved by the current situation.
“I think that Chelsea have underachieved this season,” he told talkSPORT. “In any other season under Abramovich, Thomas Tuchel would have been sacked for this season’s performance.
“When you look at the quality players that they’ve got and the squad of players that they’ve got; Ziyech, Havertz, Lukaku, Pulisic; they’ve got so many top, top players and if Arsenal win against Leeds then they’re just one point above Arsenal.”
Tuchel fortunate to be at the Bridge
Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have been roundly praised for the job they have done at Liverpool and Man City respectively.
Tuchel’s name, along with Tottenham’s Antonio Conte, also gets thrown into the mix when talk turns to the Premier League managerial heavyweights.
Third place in the league is by no means guaranteed, with Arsenal closing in. And Agbonlahor feels Chelsea should be closer to the top of the table with the players at their disposal.
“Look at the squads of both Arsenal and Chelsea,” he added. “Tuchel has been disappointing this season and he’s lucky to still be in the job, for me.”
Agbonlahor’s words seem harsh to say the least. A campaign with silverware in the cupboard, reaching two domestic finals plus being edged out of Europe by Real is surely not ‘disappointing’.