PORTO, Portugal (AP) — Bursting back into the Estádio do Dragão dressing room dressing spraying bubbly from a bottle over his squad, Thomas Tuchel unleashed his emotions.
Losing Champions League finalist last season. Fired by Paris Saint-Germain in December. A Champions League winner six months later with Chelsea.
What a whirlwind year it's been for the German manager.
Little wonder he's not so easy to meet his own boss.
It took 123 days from his hiring by Chelsea to meet Roman Abramovich. It was timed to perfection — after beating Manchester City 1-0 in the Champions League final on Saturday night.
“It was the best moment for the first meeting,” Tuchel said, “because now on it can only get worse. We will speak tomorrow."
There's a contract to talk about.
Managers at Chelsea aren't known for their longevity. Not even saved by his status as a club playing great, Lampard lasted only 18 months. Tuchel only got an 18-month contract from Abramovich.
“I think we are pragmatic in our choices,” the Russian billionaire told Forbes magazine in March. “And we are comfortable making the right changes at the right time to ensure we can achieve our long-term ambitions."
The ambitions when Tuchel arrived seemed to be more modest — just return Chelsea to the top-four. Champions League qualification was sealed on Sunday despite a season-ending Premier League defeat to Aston Villa. But there was also the setback of losing the FA Cup final to Leicester the previous week.
Tuchel was saved in his 30th match in charge by the club's record-signing from the summer transfer window as $90 million-plus attacking midfielder Kai Havertz scored the only goal in Porto.
It sealed Chelsea's second Champions League title with echoes of the 2012 triumph that was also overseen by a mid-season appointee. Tuchel will be hoping to last longer then Roberto Di Matteo who was fired by Abramovich six months later.
“I can assure him that I will stay hungry, that I want the next title and I feel absolutely happy, as a part of a really ambitious club, a strong part of a strong group," Tuchel said. "That suits my belief and my passion about football in the moment perfectly. So my desire is to go for more victories, to grow as a coach and to push the group on the first day of the next season to the limit.
“We have work to do to close the gap, and this is what I’m all about. And so it will be nice to meet him a bit closer."
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Rob Harris, The Associated Press