Thomas Tuchel is Roman Abramovich's perfect win-now mercenary
Nobody saw this coming. Nobody.
When Roman Abramovich made the controversial decision to cut ties with Frank Lampard, he did so because he feared Chelsea's hopes of finishing in the top four of the Premier League were slipping away. Their status as one of Europe's elite was fading away.
Thomas Tuchel came in, and now Chelsea are 90 minutes away from being Europe's elite.
Ignoring Abramovich's desire to simply salvage something from this season, Tuchel has taken Stamford Bridge by storm and turned Chelsea into somewhat of an impenetrable force...5-2 defeats to West Brom notwithstanding.
Tuchel was urged to forget about the Champions League and FA Cup in favour of scraping fourth place in the Premier League, but he's dived head-first after all three. Even Abramovich, the most win-now owner on the planet, didn't even want this, but Tuchel's delivered nonetheless.
Abramovich has met his match. He's found an owner who does not accept anything less than perfection. We've seen bosses like Jose Mourinho say he needed time to build a champion, but Tuchel's done it with hand-me-downs from Lampard's reign.
Wednesday's 2-0 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final was perhaps the most emphatic example of the difference between Lampard's and Tuchel's Chelseas. The former's was fun but repeatedly overwhelmed by better opposition, whereas Tuchel has taken the sensible, calculated route to success.
His Blues laughed in Real's face as they stifled them from the get-go in the first leg. They created chances both home and away, and had this aggregate scoreline been 8-0 instead of 3-1, few would have said it was unjustified.
Chelsea waltzed through Real with terrifying ease and should have pummelled them into the ground. Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Mason Mount all missed guilt-edged chances to put the game to bed, but even their own destructive tendencies couldn't keep Tuchel's side down. They were here to win and win only.
It's Abramovich's dream. He's found a manager who has discovered the secret to success even when he was supposed to be here to steady the ship. There's exceeding expectations, and then there's this.
If there's one issue Abramovich might have, it's that Tuchel's Chelsea aren't always eye-dazzlingly fun. The Russian wants a side like Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, who stomped opponents with some of the best football we've ever seen. Tuchel's side aren't that... yet.
According to The Telegraph's Matt Law, this isn't Tuchel's final form. The boss is simply steadying the ship, and he's already putting plans into place to change to more of a front-footed style of play next year. The 4-2-4 formation is one of many under consideration.
To get success from that style Tuchel would need new players, and Abramovich won't hesitate to back him. If the German can succeed without any financial help whatsoever, imagine what he can do with his preferred squad.
It's for this reason that Chelsea cannot be ruled out in the pursuit of Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland. Tuchel wants a striker, and Abramovich will be so caught up in the success of his club that he'll give serious consideration to bankrolling it. If the Norwegian is available for around £100m, expect Chelsea to go all-in for him.
Even if Leicester win the FA Cup and Manchester City snatch European glory, Abramovich will be infatuated by Tuchel. Chelsea were never supposed to be here, and yet he and he alone has brought them within touching distance of immortality.
For Chelsea, the future is incredibly bright. Strap in.