Rio Ferdinand says he is “absolutely baffled” that Chelsea have sacked Thomas Tuchel, but agrees with the BT Sport colleagues Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler that Brighton boss Graham Potter will want to take the job.
Tuchel guided Chelsea to Champions League glory in 2021 just months after his appointment at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues’ statement on Wednesday said that it was the “right time” to make a change as the club reaches 100 days under the ownership of a consortium led by Todd Boehly.
The London club sit sixth in the Premier League table after their opening six games of the domestic season, five points off league leaders Arsenal, while a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League opener on Tuesday seemed to be the final straw for Chelsea’s new ownership.
Ferdinand says Chelsea’s decision to sack Tuchel left him “in total shock” and believes the German coach deserved more time to turn the club’s form around.
“I’m in total shock,” he told BT Sport.
“I feel for Thomas Tuchel. I feel what he has achieved in the short space of time he is there deserves some grace.
“He navigated the club through a very difficult period in terms of the takeover. They broke records in terms of transfer spend in this window. To have six games and to be deemed not good enough for the club. I am absolutely baffled.
“I asked him what the new regime is like and how it had been so far. He said it’s not any worse or not better. It was quite strange. He said the structure is amazing. The club, the facilities, the resources he has at his disposal. He loves it. He really seemed to enjoy being there at the club.
“You fastforward to where we are today and it doesn’t make sense to me. You look online and you see all of the Chelsea fans are disgruntled. They’re not happy. They’re confused. They understood [Roman] Abramovich’s way of working. Managers were coming in and out very quickly.
“This is a new regime and people didn’t expect this. When people are startled or surprised with something it does lead to a bit of unnerving.”
Owen says that Tuchel should have been allowed the time to integrate the club’s new players signed this summer. He also questions who is making the decisions about the club’s signings after a transfer window where Chelsea spent £254m.
“Strange timing,” he said. “I thought he’d get more grace. The transfers and the amount they’ve spent. Who is above? The likes of Petr Cech have left and that area of the club has left.
“It leads you to believe it can only be the new owner [Todd Boehly]. Would he have the understanding of the game to be signing somebody? Someone must be in his ear.
“Very strange situation. I thought he was really brilliant when he first came to the club. I was taken by him and thought he was going to be a real success. It’s sad to see.”
Chelsea have reportedly opened talks with Potter about the Englishman becoming their new manager.
Ferdinand, Owen and Fowler all believe the Chelsea job is too good a proposition for him to turn down.
Ferdinand said: “You don’t get into this line of work without wanting to manage massive clubs who can get their hands on trophies. Brighton’s model is about growing players, recruiting players and selling big. Their model is very different.
“Potter is someone who is very driven and will want to test himself at the next level. He’s done enough to be considered and we have to wait and see how that plays out.”
Fowler said: “If Chelsea come calling we all know how big a club Chelsea is. The fact is they still have an unbelievable squad. OK they’ve had a few indifferent results this year. As a player we all wanted to play at the top, we all wanted to be the very best you can.
“As a manager regardless of where you are. Your aim is to get to the top. Chelsea is a top club with great players so why wouldn’t you want to go there?”
Owen said: “Potter is the obvious choice. He’s done miracles at Brighton. They’ve got a real identity about that team. He would be going in from a real safe environment where he is liked and respected and building something to a volatile place where they’re sacking managers left, right and centre.
“He’s shown that you do need time to build a club. Where they are at the moment has taken years to get to.
“If you’ve got any ambition about yourself you have to break free and go to one of these big clubs and try and win one of the big trophies.”