Graham Potter Chelsea heading backwards under manager so can owners continue to support him?
Chelsea lost 2-0 at Tottenham to continue wretched form under Graham Potter; Blues have won one of last 11 games in all competitions, scoring just four goals in that time; Chelsea now closer to bottom three than top four after first defeat to Spurs in nine Premier League meetings
As the only club to hold a 100-per-cent record when facing Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Premier League, Sunday’s trip to north London for Chelsea felt like it represented a pivotal moment for Graham Potter.
Help his team maintain that impressive record at the home of their rivals and the manager would go a long way to relieving the pressure upon his shoulders, not to mention winning over the fans who called for his departure after the dispiriting
But, at the same time, it felt like a defeat, coupled with another performance lacking intensity, aggression and – most importantly – goals would ratchet up the noise surrounding Potter’s position to unbearable levels.
Unfortunately for the former Brighton boss, the latter scenario is what played out at Tottenham, with Spurs comfortably seeing off the feeble challenge posed by Chelsea as they triumped 2-0 to end a run of eight matches – spanning nearly five years – without a Premier League win over the Blues.
It is hard to see where Chelsea turn from here. The message coming from Stamford Bridge after the loss to Southampton was that Potter still had the support of Todd Boehly and the rest of Chelsea’s owners, but that faith will be pushed to the limit in the wake of yet another hugely disappointing display.
No matter how hard you look, it is hard to see where Potter has improved his team since replacing the popular Thomas Tuchel in September. Chelsea lacked a cutting edge in attack during much of the second half of the German’s time in charge, but Potter’s team have taken that profligacy to new levels.
Remarkably, Chelsea have scored just six goals in all competitions since November 6 – the fewest of any side in the top four tiers of English football and 40 fewer than Manchester United have produced in the same period of time.
Potter has also failed to replicate Tuchel’s ability to produce strong performances and results in the biggest games, with Chelsea 24 matches into the league season yet still without a win against any top-half side.
Potter’s struggles are not for the want of trying, with Chelsea making an average of 3.9 changes to their side per Premier League game – the joint-highest rate of any team in the competition’s history.
The suggestion would be that the 47-year-old does not know his best XI, although it is hard not to empathise with Potter in this respect, given the injuries he has had to contend with and the exceptional number of players that have been added to Chelsea’s squad since the new owners arrived.
However, those new players – 19 in total, signed for a total of more than £600m – were some of the most sought-after in Europe and were brought in to improve the squad, but that has failed to happen.
In fact, since the January transfer window opened, Potter has overseen one win in 11 games in all competitions, with his side scoring just four goals in that time. Despite the spending, Chelsea continue to get worse.
The west Londoners are now closer to the relegation zone than the top four and have surely waved goodbye to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, with Tottenham now 14 points ahead of their 10th-placed rivals in fourth.
Boehly and his fellow investors did not imagine this scenario when they recruited Potter five months ago, and nor would they have anticipated the strength of feeling from the supporters against the man they hired to spearhead the club’s new era.
Chelsea fans have never really taken to Potter. Their unhappiness at the sacking of Tuchel has played a part, as has the Englishman’s perceived lack of charisma compared to his predecessors at Stamford Bridge.
But after remaining apathetic towards Potter during much of reign, it felt as though the tide turned once Southampton left west London with all three points, with calls for his exit raining down from the stands.
With yet another defeat – against Tottenham of all teams, the side Chelsea used to pride themselves on beating – Potter feels further away than ever from proving he is the right man for the job.