8 Wins, 4 draws, and 6 losses – Graham Potter’s start to life in the Chelsea dugout has been far from plain sailing so far.
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The team’s 4-0 loss at the Etihad in the 2022/23 FA Cup third round was the second defeat to Man City in a week and condemned the Blues to one win in eight games. Choruses of boos and chants for former managers have joined the tongue-in-cheek ‘shoot!’ chants that follow Chelsea around these days, all of which are heaping mounting pressure on Potter. The question on everyone’s mind now is: ‘have Chelsea made a mistake in hiring the Englishman’? Join us here at SinkorSwimSports as we go through the predicament the Blues find themselves in, and whether or not Chelsea should sack Graham Potter.
Chelsea Record Under Graham Potter
Played W / D / L For / Against Difference Win % 18 8 / 4 / 6 20 / 19 +1 44.4
W / D / L
For / Against
8 / 4 / 6
20 / 19
A New Low
Chelsea came into this season’s FA Cup third round having not been eliminated at the first hurdle for over a quarter of a century and hadn’t been knocked out of both domestic cups before January 9th since the 1980s.
However, nineteen months on from their Champions League triumph over their opponents here, those are two records Potter has under his belt. Since the Champions League win, Chelsea have lost five out of the last seven against City, and Potter has lost eight out of nine matches against Pep’s men now – clearly, the balance of power behind these two serial winners has shifted away.
The Blues had received a sympathetic reaction at full-time following a 1-0 loss to City on Thursday, however, there was no such patience at the Etihad following a performance that was bereft of any of the same fight, desire, or quality.
Sublime goals from Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden either side of a Julian Alvarez condemned Chelsea to a 3-0 deficit at half-time. Mahrez added another penalty in the second half, rubbing salt in the wound and flexing just how easy an evening the Cityzens enjoyed over the course of their 4-0 win.
Chelsea are in transition and in the midst of a painful injury crisis, however, neither of these are justifiable excuses for the performance Potter’s men put up on Sunday. The team didn’t register a single shot in the first half, triggering choruses of ‘shoot’ and ‘we’ve had a shot’ from the traveling away end whenever the Blues made their way to the final third.
The side lacked fight and, more alarmingly, belief throughout the affair. The absence of any conviction in what they’re being asked to do on the pitch is a worrying trend emerging across Potter’s still relatively new tenure.
CHELSEA RECORDED THEIR LOWEST XG FOR FIVE YEARS AGAINST MAN CITY
‘Suffering As A Club’
Graham Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea manager on 8 September 2022. Not only was he replacing an incredibly popular head coach with three trophies in twenty months, but there was a lot of money riding on this long-term project in the making. The Blues reportedly gave Potter a five-year contract worth £60m and up to 20m to Brighton for taking the Englishman and his backroom staff.
At the time of Tuchel’s sacking, Chelsea were 6th in the table. As of January 9th, 2022, Chelsea are currently down in 10th, ten points off of the Champions League places.
Speaking after the result on Sunday, Potter claimed:
“You can make excuses and look for reasons or say it isn’t good enough. Both of those answers are correct.
We have to keep improving and stick together because clearly we are suffering as a football club and it’s not nice at all. But that’s where we are at the moment.
We can’t do anything apart from do our jobs better and work harder. You understand the supporters’ frustration, we respect that. But our job is to keep working.”
The boos and chants for his predecessor will be potent messages to the Chelsea board that supporters are far from convinced about the Potter project. BBC Sport pundit and record Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer offered a more scathing assessment of the Blues’ performance against City:
“From a Chelsea point of view that first half was not acceptable. I don’t care how many injuries you have, you still have to put a shift in and it’s embarrassing because they haven’t.
It was nowhere near good enough. Look at their body language, they looked like they don’t want to be there – the energy and leadership has to come from the manager.
Going forward they were so bad you wouldn’t believe it. They have been nothing short of pathetic in forward positions.
“They have a big week coming up, they have to show more.”
The Argument For More Time
The pressure is definitely on Potter right now. Results continue to conspire against him, experienced pros in the squad continue to look disinterested, injuries are mounting up, and there’s an absence of any sort of belief when it comes to chance creation and conversion.
And yet, it wasn’t so long ago the ex-Brighton boss was seen as an England manager in the making and one of the most forward-thinking coaches in the country. Having led Brighton to 9th in 2021/22, four wins in the opening six matches of the season left Brighton in the top four when Potter swapped Sussex for Stamford Bridge.
The issues at Chelsea run deep and will need a long-term vision to fully rectify. Indeed, figures like Pep Guardiola have spoken out in support of Potter, claiming that he needs time to truly show what he is capable of.
A change in the dugout is unlikely to happen anytime soon with Potter seeking assurances that he wouldn’t lose his job if Chelsea fail to make European football this season, however, that doesn’t mean the pressure on his back is going to be relaxed. Eight wins out of eighteen and six losses in nine games are not what Chelsea fans expect, and not the record Tuchel was operating with when he was shown the door.
Nevertheless, there is a reason why Chelsea forked over so much for Potter and his backroom team, and those reasons haven’t changed. The Boehly-Potter project still has the potential to turn the club’s fortunes around, but their first taste of the discontent resonating with their fanbase will give them something to wrestle with over the second half of the season.
Red Bulls, James Anderson and Christian Pulisic enthusiast. Still unsure how Wes Brown wrangled himself a Champions League medal – Premier League, Cricket and Major League Soccer contributor at SinkorSwimSports.