When Graham Potter obtained the nod to take over because the Blues’ supervisor following predecessor Thomas Tuchel’s shock sacking in September final yr, it was a dream come true.
“I’m extremely proud and excited to symbolize Chelsea FC, this incredible soccer membership,” Potter stated on the time.
“I’m very excited to associate with Chelsea’s new possession group and sit up for assembly and dealing with the thrilling group of gamers and to develop a crew and tradition that our wonderful followers might be happy with.”
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Fast ahead simply 4 months and all of the sudden what began out as a dream is shortly turning right into a nightmare as key accidents, a scarcity of creativity and course, and a string of poor outcomes have mixed to pile on the strain for Potter as he faces questions over his job safety.
Chelsea have had 29 everlasting managers, with Danny Blanchflower holding the undesirable data of each the shortest (32 video games) and statistically least profitable (win share of simply 16) reign within the membership’s wealthy 119 yr historical past.
Under-fire Chelsea supervisor Graham Potter.Source: Getty Images
While Blanchflower’s win share document is secure in the interim (Potter’s win share presently sits at 44), his almost 50-year document for shortest variety of video games in cost might be beneath risk ought to Potter fail to discover a option to flip round Chelsea’s alarming type of late.
Although it will appear extremely unlikely that the previous Brighton & Hove Albion supervisor can be sacked within the subsequent 14 video games (he presently has been in cost for 18 video games), the chance can’t be dominated out for a proud membership like Chelsea, who maintain the EPL document for many supervisor adjustments (18*) and path solely Tottenham and Newcastle for many supervisor adjustments in-season (11*).
*Excludes caretaker managers
With strain mounting on the Blues’ supervisor forward of Friday morning’s (all occasions AEDT) essential West London derby in opposition to Fulham at Craven Cottage following Monday’s humiliating FA Cup thrashing by the hands of reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, Fox Football takes a take a look at the state of play at Chelsea.
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THE HONEYMOON PERIOD
When a consortium headed by American billionaire Todd Boehly, who is a component proprietor in three main Los Angeles based mostly sports activities franchises (Baseball’s Dodgers in addition to Basketball groups the Lakers and Sparks), agreed to purchase Chelsea FC for a document $7.5 billion from proprietor Roman Abramovich it signalled the start of a brand new chapter within the Premier League membership’s historical past.
With new possession comes new course and adjustments have been afoot in consequence. Long-serving chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia have been the primary members of senior administration to depart Stamford Bridge within the wake of the takeover, adopted shortly after by membership legend and former technical and efficiency advisor Petr Cech (not too long ago changed by Christopher Vivell).
A couple of months later it was former supervisor Thomas Tuchel who was proven the door in a bombshell sacking after a gradual begin to the EPL season and a dismal 1-0 defeat within the opening group stage match of this yr’s Champions League competitors. That was regardless of the 49-year-old German having guided the membership to their second Champions League title in May 2021 in addition to profitable the Club World Cup, reaching two home cup finals and main the crew to a third-place end within the Premier League final season.
Making the transfer much more of a shock was that the brand new possession had seemingly backed Tuchel closely within the switch market, forking out round £270 million ($A461m) on 9 signings throughout the summer season.
However, lower than 48 hours after Tuchel was unceremoniously fired, Graham Potter was appointed as Chelsea’s new supervisor on a five-year contract after the membership triggered the Englishman’s contract launch clause to poach the 47-year-old supervisor from Premier League rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.
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New proprietor and Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly stated on the time he was “thrilled” to carry Potter on board, having hand picked the person that might seemingly take the membership within the course he needed for the forseeable future.
“He is a confirmed coach and an innovator within the Premier League who matches our imaginative and prescient for the membership,” he stated.
“Not solely is he extraordinarily gifted on the pitch, he has expertise and capabilities that stretch past the pitch which can make Chelsea a extra profitable membership.”
Tuchel’s relationships together with his gamers had reportedly deteriorated and there have been tensions with the membership hierarchy which in the end led to his sacking.
Recruiting Potter from Brighton was a press release of intent, one the hierarchy needed the dressing room to listen to, see and skim.
Potter, too, was given the promisses and assurances he sought. That he could be given time to rebuild, to finesse, to form the squad in his picture.
The teaching change appeared like a masterstroke when the brand new supervisor started his Chelsea reign with a nine-game unbeaten run (6 wins and three attracts) by which the West London aspect scored 15 targets and conceded simply 3 targets to take a seat simply outdoors the highest 4 within the premier league and having secured their place within the knockout levels of the Champions League. The honeymoon interval was all sunshine and rainbows as Potter was being lauded for his frequent tactical adjustments and seemingly single handedly turning across the crew’s fortunes. Unfortunately for each Potter and Chelsea, the honeymoon interval was about to return to an abrupt finish.
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THE TURNING POINT
Ironically it was a league match in opposition to Potter’s former aspect Brighton which proved to be the catalyst for the Blues’ dramatic dip in kind, with a shock 4-1 away thrashing by the hands of the southeastern crew effectively and actually burst the honeymoon bubble – and would ship Chelsea on a downward spiral.
The Blues would solely win one in every of their subsequent 4 video games following the loss to Brighton, registering three straight losses (together with a 2-0 third-round defeat to Manchester City within the English league) as they headed into the six-week-long World Cup break in a free fall.
As the Premier League took a protracted deep breath whereas all eyes have been on Qatar, the membership hoped that Potter would use this time to correctly assess his squad, lastly decide on his crew’s most well-liked techniques, work out the place issues had gone fallacious previous to the break, and hopefully rediscover Chelsea’s profitable mojo as soon as play resumed.
A 2-0 dwelling win first up in opposition to a lacklustre Bournemouth impressed hope that issues have been again on monitor, however it proved to be a false daybreak as a disappointing 1-1 away draw with lowly Nottingham Forest was adopted by back-to-back defeats to Manchester City contained in the area of every week.
In hindsight, the warning indicators have been nonetheless there within the Bournemouth win as star defender Reece James had made a powerful return from a knee drawback that pressured him out of rivalry for England’s World Cup squad, main the Blues to a 2-0 halftime lead, solely to maintain a leg harm early within the second half that left James mendacity on his again disconsolately earlier than making his means off the pitch. Chelsea didn’t appear to be the identical crew within the second half following the 23-year-old’s harm, nor have they of their three video games since.
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THE TIPPING POINT
Despite having solely registered two wins of their final eight matches both aspect of the World Cup break, with the Blues solely having scored a measly six targets whereas conceding 11 to their opposition throughout that stretch, their was nonetheless a faint optimism amongst followers that Chelsea may trigger an upset of their third-round FA Cup conflict in opposition to Manchester City on Monday morning (AEDT).
This was solely heightened by the choice from opposing supervisor Pep Guardiola to start out the match with stars Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and goalkeeper Ederson on the bench in addition to leaving John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo out of the beginning lineup.
Chelsea as a membership aren’t identified for his or her persistence in the case of getting outcomes and usually their supporters don’t lengthy tolerate shedding contemplating their current historical past of success, however each the membership and it’s followers can abdomen a hard-fought loss from their crew such because the 1-0 dwelling loss to Man City late final week (particularly when accidents to key gamers have ravaged the first-choice squad). What they gained’t put up with nevertheless, irrespective of who’s within the lineup, is the form of insipid efficiency displayed within the 4-0 belting they acquired from the defending Premier League champions.
It summed up all that has gone fallacious for Chelsea this time period: a crew depleted by accidents, unsure in its construction, unable to get the ball up the pitch into harmful areas and toothless within the last third.
Languishing in tenth within the Premier League – 10 factors adrift of the highest 4 – and now out of each home cup competitions on the first hurdle for the primary time since 1989, a bit of Chelsea’s travelling followers have been heard singing the title of former boss Thomas Tuchel and ex-owner Roman Abramovich throughout their Etihad capitulation.
It wasn’t simply followers who savaged the Blues’ efficiency in opposition to City, as many soccer pundits criticised each the crew and the supervisor, with some even evaluating Potter’s Chelsea stint to that of David Moyes throughout his disastrous season accountable for Manchester United.
The leap from Everton to United was too huge for Moyes, and Potter now seems like he additionally wanted a stepping stone between Brighton and Chelsea, fairly than making such an enormous transfer with out the required expertise.
Much like throughout Moyes tenure on the Red Devils, Potter has didn’t win the massive video games throughout his reign thus far with the league loss to Man City that means Chelsea are but to beat a top-half crew this season throughout seven matches and so they didn’t lay a glove on Pep Guardiola’s aspect throughout two cup ties.
Former England striker Alan Shearer described the first-half show as “unacceptable”, “embarrassing” and “pathetic”, whereas Potter himself admitted Chelsea have been “clearly struggling as a soccer membership”.
Former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara went a step additional by saying he believes that Graham Potter seems “utterly out of his depth” at Chelsea.
“Shambles, the lot of you. An absolute shambles. They’re miles of it, aren’t they?,” he stated on talkSPORT Breakfast.
“Look, Graham Potter has gone in and I assumed that Graham Potter deserved the chance as a result of he did a extremely obtained job at Brighton and obtained them enjoying some incredible soccer, however he goes to Chelsea and he seems utterly out of his depth.
“I’m so shocked as a result of I actually thought he was going to do job.”
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O’Hara went on to say that it’s an indictment on the brand new supervisor that the aspect seem to have gone backwards since Potter took over from Tuchel.
“It’s like Potter has gone in and tried to make them like Brighton, however he’s doing a foul job.
“The buck stops with the supervisor on the finish of the day. They had Thomas Tuchel who, with this crew, barring just a few that left like Rudiger, gained the Champions League with this crew and these gamers.
“I take a look at Graham Potter. They have been fifth when he got here in and so they’re now tenth and 19 factors away from the leaders.”
If Potter fails to proper the ship and his Chelsea tenure is minimize brief in the identical vein as his predecessor, then this consequence will probably be appeared again on because the second which signalled the start of the tip.
WHAT HE SAID
After the sport Potter acknowledged that whereas accidents are an element, the crew’s performances aren’t the place they should be.
“The ends in a small area of time aren’t optimistic,” he stated.
“You could make excuses and search for causes or say it isn’t ok. Both of these solutions are right.
“We must maintain bettering and stick collectively as a result of clearly we’re struggling as a soccer membership and it’s not good in any respect. But that’s the place we’re in the meanwhile.”
In response to a post-match query concerning the followers booing in addition to chanting Tuchel and Abramovich’s names, Potter refused to chunk as an alternative enjoying it with a straight bat.
“We can’t do something other than do our jobs higher and work tougher,” he stated.
“We perceive the supporters’ frustration, that’s comprehensible and we’ll respect that.
“Our job is to do our jobs, to maintain working, see the state of affairs for what it’s, and naturally there are all the time different opinions, negativity and criticism as a result of the outcomes haven’t been optimistic. That’s a part of the job and the problem.”
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CRUCIAL MONTH AHEAD
Across the previous eight rounds of Premier League video games, Chelsea have the fewest wins and have scored the fewest targets. Brentford, Brighton and Nottingham Forest are among the many groups to have taken factors off them throughout that streak.
It’s their worst league run since 2010, to go together with their first FA Cup third-round exit since 1999.
They are alarming statistics and undesirable data in what’s shortly turning right into a disastrous season.
Chelsea, nonetheless membership world champions, reached each home cup finals and completed better of the remaining behind Man City and Liverpool final season. This is an unbelievable drop-off.
Already beneath immense strain following the Man City debacle earlier this week, and nonetheless lacking a number of first-choice gamers via harm (The Blues are presently with out injured gamers Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana, N’Golo Kante, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic amongst others), Potter faces what shapes as a make or break month for each the membership and the under-fire supervisor’s job safety.
Having gone out to Manchester City on the first stage in each home cup competitions, Chelsea now face a vital run of Premier League video games over the subsequent 5 weeks to attempt to enhance outcomes earlier than they play Borussia Dortmund within the final 16 of the Champions League.
The Blues journey to west London rivals Fulham, who’re above them within the desk however haven’t gained a west London derby in 21 makes an attempt since a 1-0 victory again in March 2006 at Craven Cottage, in a must-win conflict earlier than internet hosting Crystal Palace on Sunday. After going through Liverpool at Anfield, they then host Fulham and play strugglers West Ham.
WHERE TO FROM HERE
Former Ostersunds FK and Swansea City supervisor Potter led Brighton to ninth place final season, the best top-flight end within the membership’s historical past.
He guided them to fourth within the desk this season – after profitable 4, drawing one and shedding one in every of their first six Premier League video games – earlier than becoming a member of Chelsea in October.
However a supervisor beforehand mooted as a possible future England boss is coming beneath growing strain after simply eight wins from his first 18 matches at Chelsea.
What’s worse than the outcomes is that the membership severely lacks any creativity via the midfield and lack the mandatory high quality in assault as evidenced the actual fact the Blues have scored simply 20 Premier League targets this season, the joint lowest tally within the high 11, are sixteenth within the pictures on aim desk – 186 in comparison with Manchester City’s 301 – and 14th for large possibilities created – 27 in comparison with City’s 61.
Frustating Blues followers even additional is the membership’s document and play at dwelling this season. Only Bournemouth have had fewer pictures at dwelling within the Premier League; solely Wolves have had fewer pictures on course on their very own patch. This has resulted in Chelsea having gained simply eight of their 16 dwelling Premier League video games in 2022, the fewest wins they’ve managed at dwelling since 1996.
The crew’s creativity and attacking points have solely been additional exacerbated by accidents to Chelsea’s two most influential gamers, N’Golo Kante and Reece James.
The absence of James, with no like-for-like substitute at proper wing-back, has been particularly damaging, robbing the Blues of one in every of their key attackers and limiting their potential to execute a wing-back system.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given all the accidents, no Premier League supervisor has made extra adjustments to his crew since October 1, when Potter took cost of Chelsea for the primary time in a league sport.
That inconsistency in choice and formation – Chelsea have began in seven totally different set-ups beneath Potter – has executed little for the crew’s stability of efficiency.
Potter known as it essentially the most difficult interval of his profession.
“I’ve by no means skilled something prefer it,” he stated concerning the harm disaster final week.
The supervisor undoubtedly has a prolonged harm listing however nonetheless has sufficient high quality and expertise at his disposal to do significantly better than endure six losses in 9 video games.
While the strain is effectively and actually mounting at Stamford Bridge, Potter discovered unlikely help within the type of his opposition supervisor after the sport on Monday.
“I might say to Todd Boehly, ‘give him time’,” Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola stated.
“I do know in huge golf equipment, outcomes are essential however I’d say give him time.
“The second half is what he’s. What he’s executed at Brighton is excellent, however…we’d like time within the first season. I had (Lionel) Messi in Barcelona my first season so I didn’t want two seasons as a result of Messi was there.”
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Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer agrees with Guardiola, and believes what Chelsea noticed in Potter 4 months in the past ought to nonetheless be legitimate now.
“They have to stay with him, it will be loopy to do anything. They have spent a fortune once more however are missing somebody who can put the ball at the back of the online.,” Shearer stated.
“They have to stay collectively and persist with him and provides him time to show it round. There is a motive they went for him, a motive they took all his employees with him and so they have to offer him time.”
Meanwhile, new proprietor Boehly, has actually dipped his hand into his pocket for transfers however there seems little clear construction or technique to his coverage and Chelsea are feeling the influence of shedding a lot expertise from their boardroom in addition to a supervisor considered one of many sport’s elite.
Significant spending this January appears a necessity and an inevitability, with Benoit Badiashile already introduced in, however given Chelsea’s raft of issues, it’s laborious to consider that cash can clear up their points anytime quickly.
That would imply extra short-term ache for Chelsea supporters – and this can be a membership the place persistence has traditionally been in brief provide. Writing off a season, even earlier than it’s even reached its midway level, is just not acceptable at Chelsea.
If Potter is to outlive, it might be an especially rocky few weeks and even months forward.
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WAITING IN THE WINGS
Even by Chelsea’s requirements, sacking Graham Potter earlier than the tip of the season could be a fast dismissal. The 47-year-old, who solely took over from Thomas Tuchel in September, is second-favourite with the bookmakers to be the subsequent coach sacked after Everton’s Frank Lampard.
It hasn’t helped that some pundits and former Chelsea gamers are calling for an prompt enchancment, none extra vociferously than Blues’ legend Frank Leboeuf who insists Potter ought to be sacked.
“Mr Potter, sufficient is sufficient now, one thing must be modified,” the 54-year-old Frenchman stated on ESPN.
“That’s not the membership I do know. You are so distant from being a Champion of Europe. I’m very upset with what I see. I believe it’s actually disrespectful.
“They don’t do something to not less than make individuals proud. Fight! Go for it!”
Safe to say if former proprietor Roman Abramovich have been nonetheless the person in cost at Stamford Bridge, then Leboeuf would’ve already had his want as Potter little question would’ve been given his marching orders.
However, as issues stand, Potter nonetheless has the backing of the Chelsea board, in keeping with a report by BBC journalist Alistair Magowan.
But as Chelsea followers know all too effectively, the ruthless nature of the Premier League is an unforgiving one and the panorama usually shifts shortly if outcomes don’t match expectations, which solely provides to the significance of the subsequent month of league matches in addition to the Champions League spherical of 16 matchup with Dortmund.
This marketing campaign has been a crushing blow for supporters and likewise for brand spanking new proprietor Todd Boehly, given the massive sums he invested to take over from Abramovich – and the knock-on prices of lacking out on Champions League soccer subsequent season, ought to Chelsea fail to make the highest 4, can be extraordinarily costly.
In truth the membership is on monitor to overlook out on Europe altogether for simply the second time this century, which is why ought to Potter fail to show issues round quickly, then the religion and persistence proven by the brand new administration group might run out and one other managerial change might be on the playing cards earlier than season’s finish.
If the worst case situation was to eventuate for Potter, then there is no such thing as a scarcity of high quality candidates who might be in line to take his place.
For starters there’s former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, who has been out of labor since leaving PSG on the finish of final season, and is presently a heavy betting favorite to grow to be the subsequent Chelsea supervisor. According to a report by the Sun, the 50-year-old Argentine could be keen to grow to be the Chelsea supervisor ought to the membership determine to half methods with Potter.
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Second favorite within the betting market is Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers who has apparent historical past with the Blues, having managed their reserves throughout 2006 and 2008. While the Foxes’ poor begin to the season might be seen as a damaging, the 49-year-old Northern Irishman and former Celtic supervisor is extremely regarded after his profitable stints with the Scottish Premiership aspect (the place he gained seven successive trophies together with the primary ever ‘Double Treble’ – a treble in two consecutive seasons – in Scottish soccer historical past) and Leicester City (main the crew to 2 consecutive fifth-place premier league finishes and the membership’s first FA Cup title of their historical past).
Longtime Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone is third favorite in keeping with oddsmakers with the 52-year-old boasting a powerful resume on the Spanish membership – profitable La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey, two UEFA Europa Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups, in addition to being runner-up of the UEFA Champions League twice – regardless of competing yr in yr out with world soccer giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Simeone is the longest-serving supervisor in La Liga, having stayed over a decade at Atlético, and is reportedly the best paid coach on the earth on £36.2m ($A 63.6m) a yr. Perhaps extra intriguing is that Simeone has reportedly advised the Spanish membership chiefs he’ll go away on the finish of the season with the crew affected by poor ends in each La Liga and the Champions League, in keeping with Spanish reporter Paco Garcia Caridad. “Simeone won’t proceed at Atleti within the coming season,” Caridad stated. “He has advised [President] Gil Marin that he’ll go away in January.”
Another extremely credentialed supervisor who is offered ought to Chelsea want a brand new supervisor is French legend Zinedine Zidane. Having been out of labor since leaving Real Madrid on the finish of the 2020-21 season, Zizou gave the impression to be ready for the France job, however has been snubbed by the French Federation who opted to increase Didier Deschamps’ deal to 2026.
This may open the door to a return to membership administration for the 50-year-old who is just not solely broadly considered one of many biggest gamers of all time, however can be one of the crucial profitable coaches on the earth, having gained a number of trophies and damaged quite a few data throughout his two spells accountable for spanish giants Real Madrid (together with having gained two La Liga titles and three consecutive Champions League crowns).
Known for his tactical type – characterised by its formation flexibility and attacking soccer – in addition to his potential to unite the dressing room and his use of in-game substitutions, if Zidane does determine he needs to educate once more, then Todd Boehly ought to do every thing in his energy to get him to Stamford Bridge.
Finally, whereas dwelling on the previous is commonly by no means wholesome, typically it is advisable go backwards to go forwards. Although not as robust of an opportunity as these listed above, bookmakers haven’t utterly dominated out the potential of Boehly deciding a reunion with one of many membership’s former managers is the most suitable choice for Chelsea ought to Potter depart. Both Thomas Tuchel and Jose Mourinho lead the subsequent line of betting within the race to grow to be the Blues’ boss.
The latter, regardless of being fired twice by the West London membership, is a more likely choice to return contemplating the current change in administration and the actual fact he has had success in each his stints as supervisor of the membership. It was solely a matter of months in the past that the 59-year-old Roma boss publicly declared his love nonetheless for his former membership the place he gained three Premier League titles and eight trophies throughout his time at Stamford Bridge. “Of course, my English connection is Chelsea, that’s the way in which I see issues, as a Chelsea man after two durations of Chelsea and 6 years,” he advised BT Sport in May final yr.
A reunion between Chelsea and Tuchel would seem extremely unlikely provided that solely 4 months have handed since his shock sacking and the truth that it will require Boehly – an especially rich and profitable businessman – to swallow his pleasure and admit he made a mistake with a purpose to restore their fractured relationship, however stranger issues have occurred so smart to by no means say by no means.
After all of the 49-year-old German supervisor was extraordinarily profitable throughout his 18 months in cost – main the membership to their second Champions League title, two minor trophies, and two runner-up finishes in each home cup competitions – and it’s clear after Monday that Chelsea followers within the away finish at Man City appeared to yearn for his or her membership’s former boss. The man himself in actual fact begged the brand new administration to rethink their resolution to fireplace him again in September.
“I’m devastated that my time at Chelsea has come to an finish.” he stated within the aftermath. “This is a membership the place I felt at dwelling, each professionally and personally. Thank you a lot to all of the employees, the gamers and the supporters for making me really feel very welcome from the beginning. The pleasure and pleasure I felt at serving to the crew to win the Champions League and the Club World Cup will stick with me perpetually. I’m honoured to have been part of this membership’s historical past and regardless of the future holds for me, the reminiscences of the final 18 months will all the time have a particular place in my coronary heart.”