Chelsea in dire straits
Christian Tiley gives his verdict on the turbulent situation facing Graham Potter’s Chelsea. Should he be given more time?
Chelsea are in dire straits, and ironically it does seem to be money for nothing as they languish down in 10th place with 2 wins in their last 15 matches, and only managing 6 goals in that time, despite spending in excess of £500 million this season alone.
Although Chelsea’s hierarchy does not seem to have a clear long-term plan and strategy, I do not believe that Graham Potter is doing enough, and is therefore not the man for the job. Reports suggest that the Chelsea board are backing Potter on the basis that Arsenal are now reaping the rewards of backing manager Mikel Arteta through tough patches. However, this is a cheap comparison when comparing each managers’ situation; during Potter’s first transfer window, over £300 million was spent on a squad already brimming with far more quality than Arteta’s when he first took over, while Arteta could only bring in a loan and a free transfer in his first transfer window. There was also a clear process at Arsenal, with Arteta winning an FA Cup within 6 months, and improvement seeming inevitable, but this is not the case for Potter. Chelsea’s most successful managers have been pragmatic winners, Graham Potter is not that kind of manager.
Potter is a manager with a philosophy of an attractive style of play. We have seen this fail before at Chelsea with Maurizio Sarri in the 2018/19 season who only lasted a season in the job, and it appears that Potter’s career at the club is may well follow suit. Potter may be a manager with a philosophy of playing attractive football controlling the game by retaining possession, but he is failing to show any signs of accomplishing this at Chelsea, so defeats are not even providing respite of demonstrating a process in motion. Chelsea’s 0-1 loss at the weekend to 20th placed, manager-less Southampton at home, a game which Chelsea simply must be winning, is a prime example of this as Chelsea only managed 36% possession in the opening 25 minutes of the game, illustrating Potter’s failure to implement his style or identity into this Chelsea side.
Potter may be a manager with a philosophy of playing attractive football, controlling the game by retaining possession, but he is failing to show any signs of accomplishing this at Chelsea.
The players on the pitch against Southampton also looked disinterested, which is especially alarming bearing in mind many are new signings and should be eager to impress. After the game Potter described Southampton as a tough, well-drilled team which set up with a plan. This was, quite comically, contradicted by Southampton interim-manager Ruben Selles stating that he had not had time to set up his team tactically. In essence, backing a process is pointless if there is no process, and there is no signs of a process at Chelsea, with Potter feeling more like Chelsea’s Unai Emery than their Arteta.
Therefore, with a derby game against Tottenham and the second leg of the Champions League tie against Dortmund fast approaching, losses could make Graham Potter’s position untenable with both the club and the fans, and it may well be time for him to go