Former Chelsea star Ashley Cole has questioned the progress made under Thomas Tuchel after Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup final loss to Leicester City.
Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as Chelsea boss on January 26. The former England star paid the price for a poor run of results. The German tactician made an immediate impact, with an unbeaten league run until losing to West Brom on April 3.
Wednesday’s loss to Arsenal was only Tuchel’s second top-flight reverse in the Blues dugout. And the ex-Paris Saint-Germain chief has also guided his charges to the Champions League final.
Manchester City will be the opponents on May 29 in Porto in what promises to be a mouth-watering occasion. But there is also a battle for this season’s top four to contend with for the west Londoners.
They currently sit fourth and are four points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool. Therefore Tuesday’s league clash with Leicester has taken on huge importance in the scrap for Champions League places.
And Cole, who made 338 appearances for the club, feels they cannot afford to lick their wounds for too long
“Chelsea have three cup finals now basically, if they want to finish in the top four and win the Champions League,” he told BBC Sport. “They have got to pick themselves up and go again. They can’t feel sorry for themselves.”
Cole points finger at Tuchel
Lampard left the club with Chelsea languishing in ninth place in the table. Damaging losses to the likes of Everton, Wolves and Arsenal and too many draws moved the board to act.
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Tuchel seemed to make a seamless transition to the club and success was immediate. But they have stuttered at a vital part of the campaign.
Cole sees a familiar problem emerging. And, after the Wembley reverse, the former England defender wonders whether Lampard’s shadow is still hanging over the players.
He added: “Is it the same team as Frank Lampard’s? When Frank was here they controlled and dominated games but couldn’t finish it off.
“The last couple of weeks it has felt the same.”
A top-four finish and Champions League victory is certain to silence the doubters. But both of those are far from certain, with Pep Guardiola’s City favourites to win in Portugal.
Liverpool are also breathing down Chelsea’s neck in the standings. They may well have to win their final Premier League game of the season to stave off the Reds’ threat.
That will be away to Aston Villa, with the sides drawing 1-1 when they met at the Bridge earlier this campaign.