LONDON (AP) – Thomas Tuchel was fired by Chelsea on Wednesday, only one month into the season and just days after the club concluded a Europe-high spending spree of nearly $300 million in the transfer window.
The decision by Chelsea’s new ownership, fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, came a day after the team surprisingly lost to Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in its first group match of the Champions League.
Tuchel, who has been a frustrated and prickly figure after matches this season, said “everything is missing” when he summed up Chelsea’s performance against Dinamo and complained that his players “lacked hunger.”
Chelsea has lost two of its first six games — to Leeds and Southampton — in an underwhelming start to the Premier League that has seen the club’s new signings fail to gel.
“As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition,” Chelsea said in a statement.
Tuchel was in charge for a year and a half, winning the Champions League only six months into his tenure. Chelsea faded in the second half of last season — Tuchel’s only full campaign at the helm — and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Champions League before finishing third in the Premier League, 19 points behind champion Manchester City.
That came in a period where Chelsea was changing ownership after Roman Abramovich was forced to put the London club on the market after being sanctioned by the British government for what it called his enabling of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and barbaric invasion” of Ukraine.
That led to Chelsea’s sale for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) to a consortium fronted by Boehly, who quickly made himself chairman as well as interim sporting director in charge of transfers.
Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella came in for big fees during the offseason, before the final days of the transfer window saw Chelsea spend 75 million pounds ($87 million) on French center back Wesley Fofana and then bring in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona to plug a gap in its striker options.
Aubameyang cited playing under Tuchel before — at Borussia Dortmund — as a benefit of the move and was handed a debut against Dinamo, which proved to be Tuchel’s last game in charge.