Graham Potter’s reign as Chelsea manager is looking increasingly tenuous. Defeat at home to bottom-side Southampton at the weekend was the last straw for many fans, with an increasing number of them calling for him to be sacked.
He now has the worst record of any Chelsea manager in the Premier League era.
The club’s new owners had previously indicated that he will be given time to turn things round, but having splurged in the January transfer market, even their patience must be wearing thin.
Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in form, the club looks set to miss out on European football altogether next season, with the Champions League already beyond them – unless they win the tournament this season.
Owners Under the Spotlight
Already the decision by the new owners of the club to replace Thomas Tuchel just a few games into the new season is coming under the spotlight. The German had steered the club to Champions League success under months after taking over the club, and added the Club World Cup last season. He had also offered stability during the period of upheaval that followed the club being put under UK government control following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the end of Roman Abramovich’s tenure as owner.
When the club was bought by the consortium led by Todd Boehly, Chelsea had appeared to back the German, giving him over £250 million to spend in the summer transfer window. Just weeks later, he was sacked with rumours that it was for non-footballing reasons and suggestions of problems off the field.
At the time, the appointment of Potter was lauded as a bod, choice. The Englishman had an unconventional path to the top, first achieving success with the little-known Swedish side Östersunds, before securing his first job in British football with Swansea City.
His performances with the South Wales side were enough for Premier League side Brighton to offer him their vacant manager’s job, and he had gone on to make them an established Premier League team, known for their tactical flexibility, attacking style and possession-based football.
Some had tipped him as a future England boss.
It has not worked
So far, though, it has not worked.
Potter cannot complain that he has not been backed by the new owners. The club spent more than £300 million more in January, breaking the British transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, and spending close to £90 million on Mykhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Yet, for all their spending, they neglected to sign a striker, and their tally of just 23 goals all season, is worse than all the teams in the top half of the table. Even Leeds United, currently 19th in the league, have scored five goals more.
And Potter does not seem to know his best side, constantly tinkering with his formation and giving all the impression of somebody unable to cope with all the riches at his disposal.
Chelsea are now 10th in the league, eleven points off the Champions League places, and a massive 23 points behind the leaders Arsenal, with a far worse goal difference. Already a top-four finish looks out of reach, and the club may struggle to qualify for European football next season in any form, not the reason that they have spent over £600 million in the course of two transfer windows.
Out of both domestic cup competitions, their one remaining hope is the Champions League, where they trail Borussia Dortmund by a single goal after the first leg of their round of 16 tie in Germany. Given their goalscoring problems, few Chelsea fans will be confident of them overcoming the deficit in the return fixture at Stamford Bridge.
Abramovich would have fired him
Had Abramovich still been in charge of the club, Potter would have been fired ago. The Russian was notorious for sacking managers at the first sign of a dip in form.
The new owners have promised that they will be different, and have previously promised to give Potter time to turn things round, but, unless they are tone deaf, will not be able to ignore what the fans are demanding. This is just not good enough by Chelsea’s standards, and Potter will know his job is hanging by a thread.
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