After Graham Potter left Brighton & Hove Albion for Chelsea in September, his time as Chelsea manager so far has been very turbulent. He was appointed on a five-year contract following the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel but the two-time UEFA Champions League winners have not had the best time of late.
At the time of writing, the Blues have one once in four outings which has included a draw to relegation candidates Nottingham Forest and a defeat to local rivals Fulham. But if results continue to worsen, will Graham Potter remain at Stamford Bridge?
Sunny times on the south coast
Potter certainly earnt the right to be managing a ‘top six’ club. He propelled Brighton from the lower echelons of the Premier League table to European hopefuls in the space of just over three seasons. This was done by playing a very attractive style of football but the Seagulls struggled to find a consistent goalscorer which hindered their chances to push higher up the table.
Another thing Potter has to be lauded for was his ability to find unearthed gems which would then go on to depart for a much bigger fee than what they initially paid. Yves Bissouma, Marc Cucurella and Ben White are to name but a few with players like Alexis Mac Allister, Moisés Caicedo and Kaoru Mitoma likely to follow suit in the future.
Bissouma, Cucurella and White were all sold to Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal respectively for a combined fee of around £135m. This money has been reinvested in finding more talent who could then go on to become future stars and it has been a very effective transfer process for the Seagulls.
The summer signings made under Tuchel
Potter’s arrival at Stamford Bridge felt like a restart for the Blues as they now had a clear plan for the future after a hiring and firing process under Roman Abramovich. He joined shortly after the transfer window ended which meant he was unable to bring in players of his own until January. In the summer, Chelsea spent just under £300m on over ten players – it remains to be seen which of those players would have been signed if Potter was in charge.
The exception to that would be Cucurella whom he managed during his time at Brighton but he has failed to impress following a big-money move in the summer. A host of players signed, as well as Cucurella, have not lived up to the billing with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reportedly already looking for the exit door.
A positive start followed by poor results
Potter’s reign as Chelsea manager got off to a good start, something that has been forgotten by many. Wins against Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and a Champions League double over AC Milan in the group stage showed that the Blues were on the right track.
However, there was a major turning point when Potter returned to Brighton with his Chelsea squad at the end of November. His side completely fell apart and were 3-0 down at half-time after goals from Leandro Trossard and two own goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah. The game finished 4-1 but there were many warning signs for Chelsea – something that would only worsen from then on.
Defeats to Arsenal, Newcastle United and Aston Villa in the league followed before the FIFA World Cup. This break came at a good time for Chelsea who were heading in a downward spiral and it was thought that this break would give Potter time on the training ground to implement his style of play.
Despite a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on their first game back, the Blues then suffered a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest – showing that not much progress had been made. A dismal display at Fulham followed with a 2-1 defeat – many of the Chelsea faithful were getting frustrated at the results, as well as the disappointing performances that went with it.
Injuries to key players
Their injuries also played a part in Chelsea’s poor run of results. There are over ten players that are currently on the sidelines and without Reece James and Ben Chilwell in particular, the Blues are a completely different team. To add to that, João Félix, on his debut against Fulham, was sent off after a horrific challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete which means he will be unavailable for the next few games. Potter’s side are extremely thin in squad depth which has meant Lewis Hall, an 18-year-old academy product, has had to step in at left-back.
With several injuries, Boehly will have to dip into his pocket and fund some additional signings if the Blues are to have a successful second half of the campaign. Mykhailo Mudryk has arrvied from Shakhtar Donetsk which will bolster their attacking options but Potter needs time at a big club like Chelsea to succeed, will he be given the time he deserves?
Will he stay?
Following Potter’s excellent spell as manager of Brighton, it is clear that if he is given time, he can succeed and create an exciting, winning team. However, at present, that is certainly not the case. Despite being under an exceeding amount of pressure, Potter looks like he will remain as Chelsea’s manager.