A LITTLE bit of love can go a long way, so the saying goes — and in Chelsea’s case who knows how far that could take them.
But one thing I am sure of is that it’s the nailed-on way to get the best out of Romelu Lukaku.
Romelu Lukaku will be deadly for Chelsea if he is fired-up and full of confidenceCredit: Getty
Thomas Tuchel can be the man to get Romelu Lukaku firingCredit: Getty
And if you’ve got a fired-up, full of confidence Lukaku leading your forward line, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.
I do think he’s come back to the Premier League as a better all-round player after his stint in Italy — and we’ll get our first look at him when they play Arsenal.
He’s learned more about the game, his hold-up play has improved, and he probably understands it more than before, after doing it on the world stage for Belgium.
But above all, he’s returned to Stamford Bridge feeling very important. And while that might not sound a massive thing, it can sometimes be the most crucial of the lot.
People think being a manager is all about spending hours on the training ground, but that’s only a small part of it.
One of the key things is man- management, knowing how to handle players, because you have to treat them all differently.
Some need a kick up the backside, others need an arm around the shoulder and being told how special they are.
It’s like when I signed Paul Merson for Portsmouth in 2002 — I told him he only had to come to the training ground three times a week.
He was living just outside Birmingham, so there was no need to drag him down every day.
Merse was brilliant for us that season, captained the side, we were winning games most weeks and ended up going into the Premier League as champions.
He played a bigger part than anyone. We treated him the right way and he repaid us by being fantastic.
The other players understand it and if you’re winning games — which we more often than not were — then everyone accepts it.
It was the same when I had Nwankwo Kanu, after I’d gone back to manage Portsmouth for a second time.
The players would go in of a Monday for a warm-down but I told him there was no need for him to come all the way down.
No one can argue that Tuchel hasn’t done really well — and the squad he’s got there looks fantastic.
He was performing well for us, he scored the winner in the FA Cup semi-final and the final, and it wasn’t a problem.
Lukaku seems to me to be very much one of those kind of players — and if that’s what it takes to bring the best out of him at Chelsea, then that’s how Thomas Tuchel will treat him.
Obviously I’m biased and still think Frank Lampard would have done a great job if they’d been more patient with him.
But no one can argue that Tuchel hasn’t done really well — and the squad he’s got there looks fantastic.
They beat Manchester City three times last season, we all saw what they did in the Champions League final, and they’re a very dangerous team.
I said last week that if Harry Kane ends up in Manchester, then it’s very hard to look past City winning the league again. But although I think they’ll get him in the end, if something does go wrong, then Lukaku could be the deciding factor.
It was obvious that the one thing they missed last season was a goalscoring striker — and he’s certainly one of those.
They got away with it a bit a year ago but no forward made double figures, which is just not acceptable for a top side. Jorginho leading scorer with seven? Do me a favour.
I tell you what, I wouldn’t fancy being those Arsenal defenders trying to stop Lukaku, whether they’re at home or not.
I can’t see anything but down for them — either on Sunday or this season really — because they look a bang average side.
This is the most ordinary Arsenal team I’ve seen for a long, long time and the best they can hope for is top six. But, to be honest, I think even that will prove beyond them.
It’s ironic, because Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are three of the best young talents around. But apart from them, there’s not a great deal else to excite you.
There’s plenty for some fans in North London to look forward to, though, after Tottenham beat City in their first game.
That’s big enough at the best of times but doing so without Kane will have given everyone a massive psychological boost as well.
So even if — or when — Harry does leave, they could still have a year to remember.
You’d certainly fancy it to be more memorable than the one in store for Arsenal anyway.
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