Tuchel blends old and new in his star-studded coaching team at Chelsea

A former Hungary international, his ‘third eye’ video guru who used to work for an Internet provider and a trusted lieutenant from Dortmund and PSG… Tuchel is blending old and new as he puts together his star-studded coaching team at Chelsea

  • Thomas Tuchel has confirmed his backroom staff since taking over at Chelsea
  • The German has brought in Zsolt Low and Arno Michels to bolster his coaches
  • Hilario, Anthony Barry and Joe Edwards are being kept on in the new regime
  • Sportsmail takes a closer look at Tuchel’s coaches as he plots Chelsea’s revival

Thomas Tuchel had little time to get his feet under the table at Chelsea before they were planted on the touchline for his first game in charge.  

He described having his world ‘turned upside down’ in the last week as he was appointed as Frank Lampard’s successor.

But one thing Tuchel was quick to do was to form a coaching staff that represents old and new for the players, a mix of some brought in under Lampard and those Tuchel has come to to trust at Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain. 

Thomas Tuchel (left) stands alongside his coaches Arno Michels (second from left), Anthony Barry (third from left) and Zsolt Low (far right) ahead of his first match as Chelsea manager

Tuchel needs to hit the ground running with Chelsea down in eighth and he will hope his newly-assembled infrastructure can help turn recent poor form around.

Jody Morris and Chris Jones followed Lampard out of the club this week but Anthony Barry and Joe Edwards were among those Tuchel has elected to retain as he bids to best understand his squad having arrived mid-season.

Sportsmail takes a closer look at the 10-strong coaching team which boasts a former Hungary international, a star of video analysis known as Tuchel’s ‘third eye’ and the former Chelsea goalkeeper tasked with improving Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga. 

Zsolt Low (right) impressed Tuchel at RB Leipzig and the duo have a history for when Tuchel coached him as a player at Mainz

Zsolt Low

Role: Assistant manager 

The 41-year-old can boast the best playing career of anyone on Tuchel’s staff having emerged as a Hungary international prior to hanging up his boots. 

Low is a newer addition to Tuchel’s coaching operation having been picked up from RB Leipzig during the German’s time with PSG. 

Tuchel was well aware of Low’s tactical capabilities long before he made a splash with Ralph Hasenhuttl at Leipzig.

The new Chelsea boss coached Low, who was a defender as a player, during his time at Mainz and he is now a key sounding board for Tuchel.

Speaking on Tuchel after he was sacked by PSG back in December, Low told Nemzeti Sport: ‘The professional relationship between Thomas and I is extremely tight, he keeps his word, he counts on me, that is why I feel part of the successes.’

Low was popular in the dressing room at PSG and received messages from lots of players, including Kylian Mbappe, on his departure. If Tuchel needs to play bad cop at times between now and the rest of the season, Low, who has experience at the top level, can be the good cop players need to turn to.  

Arno Michels 

Role: Assistant manager

Arguably Tuchel’s most trusted lieutenant and it spoke volumes that it was Michels, rather than Low, that was sat closest to him in the dugout on Wednesday night.

‘He is a diligent, hardworking and loyal trainer whose character traits suit me perfectly,’ Tuchel said previously on Michels.

The pair met when studying for the coaching badges and quickly realised their footballing philosophies aligned. 

It has been said that as they studied for their badges, Tuchel became insistent that  when he became a boss he would turn to Michels to be his right-hand man. 

Tuchel likes to keep a small circle and Michels plays a vital role in it. They are known to spend hours talking through tactics before games and his ‘perfectionist’ approach will mean Michels can be a good source of help to newer coaches adapting to Tuchel’s intense approach to management.  

Arno Michels (right) is Tuchel’s right-hand man and is a key sounding board for the manager

Benjamin Weber

Role: Data analytics 

Known affectionately as Tuchel’s ‘third eye’, Weber is a key part of the German’s operation wherever he goes. 

The video analysis guru hails from Schmitten, Hessen, has previously joked that he ‘actually had no idea about football’ in the early years but he is a valuable ally to Tuchel and their run to the Champions League final together with PSG was testament to Weber’s value behind the scenes. 

He spent time working for an internet service provider as a student but has since earned a living as a trusted sidekick in a football analytics role with Tuchel.  

Weber is another to have been with Tuchel since the very beginning at Mainz and has followed the new Blues boss to Dortmund and PSG before the switch to England.

Weber is meticulous in his approach to analysis and his influence was felt almost immediately upon arrival at PSG. 

The French champions followed his advice to have cameras installed right across their Camp des Loges training ground to record all first-team sessions for analysis. 

Chelsea’s players may soon learn that Weber won’t miss a trick as he pores over hours of footage to give them marginal gains for the rest of the campaign.  

Tuchel (right) has worked with Benjamin Weber (second from right) since being at Mainz

Joe Edwards

Role: First Team coach

A man who knows Chelsea Football Club inside and out, retaining Edwards appears a no-brainer for Tuchel.

Edwards, who spent time at the club as a schoolboy, has worked his way up through the academy set-up to the point where he was promoted by Lampard when he arrived in 2019. 

A decision was made at the age of 20 to turn his back on playing and go all in on coaching and it has paid off handsomely. 

He took charge of the club’s Under-18 side for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and they went on to win the FA Youth Cup on both occasions. 

Edwards later became head coach of the oldest development squad and is well known to academy graduates such as Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour.

With a lot of change mid-season always risking disillusionment among the younger players, Edwards can be the perfect link for Tuchel to get the best out of them all.  

Joe Edwards (left) has worked his way up through the Chelsea academy since joining in 2004

Anthony Barry

Role: First Team coach

A popular member of staff with the players and that may well have played a role in Tuchel’s decision to keep Barry on board.

Sportsmail reported on Wednesday that League One Fleetwood Town have shortlisted Barry for their vacant managerial role but if that move does not materialise it seems he has a key part to play in the Tuchel era at Stamford Bridge.

Barry, 34, joined Lampard’s staff last August having been viewed as a defensive specialist that could tighten them up after a leaky 2019-20 in which they conceded the most of any side in the top 10.

He was described by Lampard earlier this month as a ‘real positive for the group dynamic’ and has also been praised for his expertise on set-pieces. 

Barry, who spent much of his own playing career in the lower leagues with the likes of Yeovil Town, Accrington Stanley, Forest Green Rovers and Wrexham, took training immediately after Lampard was sacked. 

Well respected by the dressing room and can give Tuchel the lay of the land, a key piece of the puzzle if he elects to stay. 

Anthony Barry (left) is respected by the dressing room and is getting interest from elsewhere

Henrique Hilario

Role: Goalkeeping coach 

First brought in under Antonio Conte, it is testament to Hilario’s quality that he is now on his fourth manager at Stamford Bridge. 

The Portuguese is well known to supporters having pulled on the Chelsea shirt as a player in some star-studded teams.

There were question marks over Hilario’s role when Petr Cech, a legend as a player at Chelsea, began to take part in training in a bid to rid errors from the games of Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga. 

But Tuchel is trusting the process and has kept Hilario on in the goalkeeping department. 

Goalkeeping has been somewhat troublesome in recent seasons and so continuity makes a lot of sense here.  

Hilario spent time with Chelsea as a player and is now the first team goalkeeping coach

James Russell

Role: Assistant goalkeeping coach

Assisting Hilario and Cech with goalkeeper coaching duties is former academy stopper James Russell.  

Russell spent six years playing for Chelsea’s youth team through until the age of 10 before later returning to coach those same age groups in 2009 having elected to turn his back on playing.   

Hailing from St Albans, Russell is one of many staff members at Cobham that have graduated from academy roles through into first-team positions. 

While Hilario is the officially titled head goalkeeping coach at the club, Russell is key in putting Mendy, Kepa and Willy Caballero through their paces in training.   

Will Tullett

Role: Fitness coach

One of the men keeping this Chelsea group fit and sharp is Tullett.

Tullet, who boasts a Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance, Movement Development, began his association with Chelsea back in 2003.

He started out working with the Chelsea Academy medical department before spending three years out in Spain at the Glenn Hoddle Academy.

Upon his return to England, Tullett was keen to put his University of Central Lancashire PhD to the test as he became a movement specialist for academy teams.

From there he worked alongside the first team sport science unit and was then promoted by Lampard to the role of fitness coach for the 2019-20 season.  

One of the unsung heroes off the pitch and a talent Tuchel has noticed early on with the decision to retain him. 

Will Tullett (left) got a smile out of Cesar Azpilicueta (middle) as he builds up players’ fitness

Matt Birnie

Role: Fitness coach

Working alongside Tullett, Birnie was the other fitness coach retained as part of Tuchel’s reshuffle. 

Birnie’s highlight as a player came with Reading’s reserve side and when the prospect of first-team football never came he turned his attentions to coaching.

He holds a UEFA B licence as well as a Masters degree in strength and conditioning from Middlesex University. 

Birnie is among the most unrecognisable faces in the current coaching staff but his influence is felt behind the scenes. Having been at Chelsea since 2005, Birnie is part of the furniture at Cobham these days. 

Before being promoted to Lampard’s first-team coaching staff in 2019, Birnie fulfilled his role as head of academy physical fitness. Alongside that he worked as the development squad conditioning coach, where he focused on both team and individual on-field conditioning, along with indoor gym-based training. 

Under Lampard he was regularly seen playing a key role before matches and he lead a number of the warm-ups in 2019-20. Remains to be seen if he will be afforded the same level of influence under Tuchel but clearly someone the German can use to get his message across.

Matt Birnie (left) and James Russell (right) are two other coaches Tuchel elected to retain

Adam Burrows 

Role: Strength and Conditioning coach

Little is known about Burrows but Lampard once described him as ‘fantastic’ and a key figure in Christian Pulisic’s development to life in English football. 

Burrows spent eight years at Derby County before he agreed to follow Lampard, who spent a year at Pride Park, to Chelsea. 

Explaining his role at Derby back in 2018, Burrows told the Training Ground Guru: ‘I work predominantly in the gym, working on strength, power and areas of injury risk, so that when the players go outside they are in the best condition to be able to deal with the training demands.’

A Masters-educated coach from St Mary’s University, Burrows reveals on his LinkedIn page that his key focus is helping to develop ‘robust players’. 

With the amount of games Tuchel and his staff will have to navigate both domestically and in Europe before the season is done, Burrows will be under pressure to keep the stars healthy.  

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