When a manager leaves a football club, the deluge of social media reaction usually follows a very specific itinerary.
First of all, we’re treated to everyone who has ever had any involvement in the game waxing lyrical over how awful it is for someone to lose their job (Gary Lineker loves that one), and then we get to the fun bit: why’ve they got rid of him?
When Chelsea parted ways with Frank Lampard, naturally the club’s poor form was blamed for his exit, though, another interesting theory was that owner Roman Abramovich was desperate to employ a manager who could get the best out of mis-firing summer acquisitions duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
The latter of the pair in particular has struggled to adapt to life in west London, with his whopping £72m price tag meaning numerous injuries and Covid issues have been completely ignored by many when assessing his first year in the Premier League.
Clearly keen to offer the youngster time to settle in English football, Thomas Tuchel has afforded Havertz game time in nearly all of the league outings he’s been available for since the German tactician’s arrival, and his display in Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with Leeds proved that he’s right to persist with the former Bayer Leverkusen man.
The 21-year-old looked lively throughout, showing clever movement off the ball and strength when in possession to be able to hold off the opposition. His linkup play with the Blues midfield was also impressive, while he continued to work his way into goalscoring positions despite a couple of spurned efforts.
However, we’re not going to pull the wool over your eyes and make out like missing chances is a great aspect of his game because he continued to plug away – the fact of the matter is he couldn’t find the back of the net, and this is where Tuchel needs to protect his young midfielder.
On the couple of occasions Havertz caught a glimpse of goal, it was clear that he was severely low on confidence, with one second-half effort in particular standing out.
With the Chelsea man emerging towards the Leeds box, Kalvin Phillips did his best impression of a dad playing football in the garden with his son as he just ushered him through on goal while, well, pretending to defend.
The youngster had the full goal to aim at and instead opted to just rifle the ball as hard he could at Illan Meslier, with the Frenchman afforded the simple task of standing completely still and just helping the ball over the crossbar.
The effort smacked of a player completely bereft of self-belief, as though he’d panicked the second he realised he was going to have to take on the effort himself and decided to just put his foot through the ball like a centre-half would do.
For all his goalscoring exploits in the Bundesliga, Havertz isn’t a centre forward, and while he’s got the energy and the movement to fill in as a frontman when needed, it’s unfair to expect him to shoulder the burden of carrying Chelsea’s goal threat in their bid for Champions League football.
If Tuchel wants to keep on building the confidence of Havertz he’s absolutely right to keep him in the Chelsea starting XI, but playing him alongside or just off a recognised forward would alleviate some of the pressure he’s clearly under when asked to play as a false nine.
It would be easy to watch the highlights of Chelsea’s draw at Elland Road and see Havertz spurn a couple of decent chances as Chelsea dropped two points in the race for the top four – in fairness, on the face of it that is what happened – and come to the conclusion he’s had a stinker.
However, his all-round display was much better than that brief summary suggests, and a continued spell in the starting XI with experienced players around him will undoubtedly bring about the end of his now 16-game run without a goal in the Premier League.