Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel have questions to answer after FA Cup defeat to Liverpool at Wembley

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Thomas Tuchel sank to his knees, repeatedly pounding his hands into the Wembley ground, believing Chelsea’s moment of redemption had arrived amid the turmoil of this turbulent season.

Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel have questions to answer after FA Cup defeat to Liverpool at Wembley

As Sadio Mane came forward to take the penalty that would have given Liverpool the FA Cup, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel braced himself for the worst, but it was saved by a magnificent save from Senegal teammate Edouard Mendy.

Tuchel jumped to his feet and pounded the air, only to feel punched in the stomach moments later when Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson saved Mason Mount’s penalty, allowing Jurgen Klopp’s side to finish the formalities with substitute Kostas Tsimikas.

Chelsea’s painful history was repeated. They went toe-to-toe with Liverpool at Wembley, just as they did in the EFL Cup final in February, only for penalties to separate the sides once more at their expense.

Thomas Tuchel bent his head as he walked the Wembley steps to accept another loser’s medal following an intriguing final in which Chelsea’s hopes of winning one of the four major trophies were dashed.

After defeats by Arsenal and Leicester City, they also earned the unenviable distinction of being the first team to lose three consecutive FA Cup finals.

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Chelsea has been through a lot this season, both on and off the field, and despite a likely spot in the Champions League next season as a reward for their efforts, there is a strong sense that things are about to change at Stamford Bridge.

Todd Boehly will succeed Roman Abramovich as Chelsea’s new owner, having single-handedly supported the club’s development until being sanctioned and effectively forced to sell due to alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It will be a different ownership model, not just beholden to the whims and demands of one man, which is good news for Tuchel because a season without one of those four trophies invariably results in Abramovich conducting a thorough investigation – even after winning the Champions League eleven months ago.

Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel have questions to answer after FA Cup defeat to Liverpool at Wembley

Of course, Boehly will be correct in sticking with Tuchel, an excellent manager who served as a dignified frontman for Chelsea when the club’s future was in doubt and Abramovich’s tenure was coming to an end.

Tuchel has challenges to deal with on the pitch, and all eyes will be on Boehly to see how he can lead and fund Chelsea into the new age.

Anthony Rudiger, the club’s defensive rock, has joined Real Madrid, while Cesar Azpilicueta, the club’s great captain, may possibly be on his way out, and Andreas Christensen, another defender, has joined Barcelona.

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Tuchel has some good players to work with and a growing academy, as Conor Gallagher’s success on loan at Crystal Palace demonstrated, but big personalities and top-level players must be replaced, all on the back of a season that must be considered as a disappointment in terms of prizes.

Kai Havertz was ruled out with a hamstring injury, and attacker Timo Werner reported a similar problem in the warm-up and felt he couldn’t play.

Chelsea won the Club World Cup and the Uefa Super Cup this season, but these are minor awards compared to the major trophies that have been arriving at Stamford Bridge on a regular basis in recent years.

The biggest question mark for Chelsea is striker Romelu Lukaku, who was given a starting spot at Wembley but did nothing to dispel the growing sense that his Β£97.5 million move from Inter Milan last summer was doomed to fail.

Lukaku came into the game having put in good performances and scored three goals in Chelsea’s previous two games, but he failed to deliver here and was substituted by Hakim Ziyech with five minutes remaining in normal time.

Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel have questions to answer after FA Cup defeat to Liverpool at Wembley

There was no shortage of effort or service, but Lukaku lacked confidence and control, and the few opportunities he did get were rushed.

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When he arrived in the glory of Chelsea’s Champions League final victory over Manchester City in June, he was viewed as the final piece in the jigsaw, but after an impressive start has faded amid criticism surrounding his off-the-field comments about his role at the club.

Lukaku may get another chance in his second season, but he has yet to repay Chelsea’s huge investment. Thomas Tuchel offered him a tremendous chance at Wembley, but he turned it down.

Chelsea and Tuchel have a lot of options. They’ve pushed Liverpool all the way in two domestic cup finals, so it’s not like it’s a crisis when you can accomplish that.

This summer, however, will be vital for a team and fanbase that wants to not only compete, but win at the highest level.

Chelsea currently trail Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League standings, so new owner Boehly will have to work quickly with Tuchel to bridge the gap.

The good news for the management is that a period of great uncertainty is coming to an end, and stability can be restored.

They now have home games against Leicester City and demoted Watford in order to ensure Champions League football next season.

After that, once the pain of this latest heartbreaking penalty shootout subsides, Chelsea and Boehly will face a summer that will shape the club’s immediate future.

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