Thomas Tuchel has won an early battle at Chelsea, one that could indeed set the tone for the rest of his managerial tenure at Stamford Bridge.
During the Roman Abramovich era, the club were not exactly renowned for their stability. So often, either the owner or the players would have far more power than whoever was on the touchline, despite the trophies they would inevitably win.
So the intense links with a move for Cristiano Ronaldo proved worrying. With co-owner Todd Boehly offered the chance to sign the Manchester United forward, it seemed Chelsea were genuinely considering a move as an early statement of intent from the American investor.
Still, that’s all it would have been, an early statement. And a rather empty one at that.
As proven at Old Trafford – and Juventus before – Ronaldo simply does not fit into a coherent modern system. Still someone who demands to play every single week, the 37-year-old’s brilliance in front of goal simply does not translate at the truly highest level anymore.
So much so that it’s difficult to see any manager sitting on that tier actually wanting to sign him. Tuchel, after all, is the man who compared managing Paris Saint-Germain to working as a government minister, such was his contempt towards the off-field drama.
The fact, then, that the German has told Boehly he does not want Ronaldo at the club, urging decision-makers to move onto other targets, says an awful lot.
Clearly, there would have been some benefits to signing the Portuguese superstar, particularly for a new owner looking for a marquee addition. As much of a problem as having in the team can be on the biggest stage, Ronaldo will still score goals at a rate most other strikers would envy.
Off the field, his commercial appeal needs little more explaining. For a new owner, they alone must be tempting.
To have the power to reject Ronaldo tells us so much about Tuchel’s standing at Chelsea, boasting the kind of power simply not seen during the Abramovich era. Even at their respective pomps, Jose Mourinho or Carlo Ancelotti simply had to put up with the signings of Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, even when having no clear roles for them.
Tuchel is a serious manager. In a recent interview, Ben Chilwell talked of the feeling within the Chelsea squad, that they knew they would not get a better coach than the one who took them to Champions League glory in 2021.
While there are doubts as to whether or not Raheem Sterling can lead the line for a team who will be judged on whether or not they win the two biggest trophies in the game, the England forward is at least a much more sensible signing. Proven to work at the top level and with a track record of playing a key role in a successful team, Sterling may not have the past Ronaldo has, but will almost certainly be better for Chelsea’s future.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, is not a signing a serious manager would make at this stage of his career. Perhaps only a move back to Real Madrid – a club who appear to defy all logic when it comes to winning the Champions League without the kind of scientific approaches undertaken by Europe’s other major players – would suit him right now.
Tuchel’s influence at Chelsea is the greatest any manager has ever had since they became a superclub, albeit the landscape above him changing has helped that process. After being backed to swerve the Ronaldo signing, it’s up to the German to prove he can be as successful as those who came before.