Micah Richards has admitted that he got it wrong when criticising Chelsea for bringing in Thomas Tuchel after Frank Lampard’s sacking.
Richards wrote in his Daily Mail column at the end of January that something did not seem right about the Blues’ decision. He insisted that he “struggles” to see Tuchel returning Chelsea to Champions League and Premier League glory. Indeed, the comments came after the 0-0 draw with Wolves, the manager’s first game in charge.
Since then, though, Tuchel has masterminded a fantastic turnaround at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea sat eighth in the league after Lampard’s sacking, but the Blues are now in a strong position to make the top four.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Chelsea have reached an all-English Champions League final against Manchester City.
As such, in his latest newspaper column for the Mail, Richards held his hands up and admitted his mistake.
Posing the question of whether pundits should stick to their opinions, even if they are unlikely to come true, he wrote: “No — I’m a firm believer in holding your hands up.
“You can’t be taken seriously in this profession if you persist with a flawed opinion and that is why today I must address my column from January 30 about Thomas Tuchel.
‘Chelsea have appointed Tuchel because they want to win the Premier League and the Champions League again,’ I wrote. ‘What have Chelsea seen in Tuchel that convinces them he will outwit Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp? I struggle to see it happening.’
I stressed that I wasn’t writing him off but ‘something about his appointment didn’t feel right’. I wasn’t impressed by how he failed to pick Mason Mount and Reece James for his first game — a 0-0 draw with Wolves — and I wasn’t sure about what he’d achieved with Paris Saint-Germain.
“Part of my argument was fuelled by disappointment for Frank Lampard, who I felt had deserved more time. Chelsea have an excellent squad and I thought, with some patience, the situation would change for Frank.”
However, Lampard got the sack, becoming the 10th manager to leave in such circumstances under Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
Since then, defensive stability has proved one of the biggest changes to Chelsea’s team. Indeed, such stability is proved by one statistic which Richards labelled “staggering”.
Richards in Tuchel, Chelsea apology
“But here we are, almost four months on, and they have a chance to win the Champions League and the FA Cup,” the pundit added.
“Tuchel has victories over Guardiola (FA Cup semi-final) and Klopp (crucial Premier League game) in the bank, too. The transformation he’s overseen has been remarkable.
“Look at Chelsea’s defensive record since he came in. There have been 19 clean sheets from 25 matches in all competitions, a record that is just staggering when you think that before the FA Cup semi-final against City, he said he only works ‘10 per cent on defending’.
“Those numbers would make you think Chelsea are a defensive side. You see it happen when a manager takes charge of a team near the relegation zone.
“They make alterations to the system and get more men back so they stop conceding so many chances. But the tweaks Tuchel has made have turned Chelsea into the best counter-attacking side in Europe.”
Chelsea continued their resurgence on Saturday, coming from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1.
Hakim Ziyech scored the equaliser, before Marcos Alonso – teed up by Timo Werner – netted the winner.