Graham Potter and Chelsea — a test of mettle for Todd Boehly

Svar Jain
By Svar Jain
7 Min Read

Owing to Chelsea’s recent struggles, Graham Potter’s position as head coach is in jeopardy, and Todd Boehly will be forced to make judgements to make sudden impact on Chelsea’s performance.

At Stamford Bridge, Graham Potter is still experiencing a great deal of stress. The latest in a string of disappointing losses occurred against Spurs on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, putting the Chelsea manager’s future in jeopardy.

How bad the situation is?

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Although Potter’s team had a good start at the club, winning six of their first nine games, and was unbeaten until a 4-1 loss to Brighton in his tenth game in charge, things quickly fell apart at Stamford Bridge in November, and the 47-year-old head coach has since struggled to get his team back on track. Chelsea have only won three of their past 15 games overall since the aforementioned loss against his previous team. And as a result, the new manager now has a fairly dismal track record with the team.

Furthermore, they are now, somewhat concerningly, closer to Everton in 18th position than they are to the aforementioned Spurs in fourth. Because of this, Potter is now under enormous pressure to turn around Chelsea. Todd Boehly, the club’s owner, will be present for the club’s forthcoming home matches against Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund in the league and Champions League, respectively, along with co-owner Behdad Eghbali. Leeds has also had a difficult year and just fired its own head coach as a result. The Elland Road team may, however, be feeling confident after a 1-0 victory over Southampton at the weekend. The Champions League could to save Potter. Dortmund’s team has a market worth which is approximately less than half of Chelsea’s own market value, despite the fact that they have been dominating the Bundesliga since the turn of the year and performed well by winning the first leg 1-0 in Germany. Chelsea still has a chance to reverse the slim advantage and win the match to advance to the next round. But if Potter loses those games, he may lose his job sooner rather than later.

Sacking managers and Chelsea

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The only strategy Chelsea has known to extricate itself out of a crisis in the contemporary period, history reveals, is to replace a failing manager, and more often than not, it has succeeded. For instance, after taking over for Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009, Guus Hiddink led Chelsea to the FA Cup and third place; Roberto Di Matteo outdid that by adding the Champions League to the FA Cup after Andre Villas-Boas left in 2012; and more recently, Thomas Tuchel added a second European Cup to the cabinet in 2021 after Frank Lampard was fired.

When a new coach arrived who they did not really like or rate, the players were frequently accused of downing tools because they had grown accustomed to this code of conduct. The Chelsea locker room has frequently been referred to as having player power. Former midfielder Mikel John Obi, who served from 2006 to 2018, acknowledged that it was there. As a result of witnessing Chelsea receive awards for doing this, fans have also become aware of it.

Nevertheless, all of this happened when Roman Abramovich owned the business. Now in command, the Todd Boehly-Clearlake consortium is attempting to operate differently. Of course, Tuchel was fired by the leadership in September after they had only worked together for a short while. But, that was more a result of a dysfunctional working relationship than it was of due to losses against Southampton, Leeds, or Dinamo Zagreb.

On the one hand, you might say that it is good that they are being patient with Potter because they want to keep their word. Also, firing two coaches in less than a year won’t look good. But, the fans are beginning to voice their opinions, like we witnessed against Southampton a week ago. The longer things remain the same, the more likely it is that frustrations will also start to be directed towards the board.

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Even Potter admits that the board’s support won’t last long in the given situation:

There is always that question, absolutely, and you can’t stop the questions. While results are what they are, I accept it. It’s part of the job. I haven’t done enough at this club to have too much good faith; I also accept that. My job isn’t to worry about that too much.

He has, however, had success turning tense circumstances around. On the night of the Spurs game, he spoke about the challenging times he experienced at his previous club Brighton and how, through a mix of his strategies and hard work, he was able to turn things around. But that was in Brighton. He must demonstrate that he can perform the same feat with players who have bigger egos and more expectations.

The only thing which matters the most right now is defeating Dortmund on Tuesday.

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