Graham Potter’s time at Chelsea has come to an abrupt end. The former Brighton manager, still viewed as one of the brightest young coaches in the game, leaves behind an unenviable legacy of results. But this sacking is not all his doing.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why Todd Boehly dismissed Potter and the rest of The Blues’ hierarchy.
Potter, the worst Chelsea manager this century?
Graham Potter is renowned for his innovative tactics and ability to develop young talent. As a manager, his previous appointments earned him nearly the status of a young but wise sage.
He achieved fame through his work at Ostersunds FK, where he revolutionized their playing style and led them to impressive domestic and international results. He then cemented his reputation in the Premier League as manager of Swansea and, then, Brighton. With its enormous salary, the Chelsea job simply could not be passed up.
Potter’s tactics are based on a fluid possession-based style of play that emphasizes quick transitions and flexibility. Potter was renowned for his adaptability in tactics, tinkering with tactics to suit opponents or circumstances.
All of this, however, did not work in London.
Graham Potter departs Chelsea with the joint-lowest points-per-game record of any manager to have taken charge of over 20 games for Chelsea in the Premier League. That’s a chilling statistic.
News of his departure came following The Blues’ 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa. This latest setback set them into the bottom half of the table. In a recent press conference, Potter admitted that these setbacks had affected his mental health.
He now joins Scott Parker, Steve Gerrard, and Frank Lampard among the managers that have been sacked this season. Unlike Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Potter’s achievements weren’t yet such that they could save his job.
His assistant, Burno Saltor, will take on as interim head coach for the league games remaining. Former Bayern Munich manager, Thomas Tuchel, is the favorite to take Potter’s job.
Nevertheless, Chelsea did manage some success by qualifying for the Quarter Final of the Champions League where they will face Real Madrid. It’s not a small triumph.
Glenn Hoddle finished his contract with 1.27 points per game as Chelsea head coach, as did Potter. The ranking of shame also includes Ruud Gullit (1.65 points) and Frank Lampard (1.67 points).
Furthermore, in terms of win percentage, Potter is second to last on the list of modern-day Chelsea coaches.
But Potter inherited a nearly impossible task as manager of Chelsea. Let me explain.
Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante, and captain Cesar Azpilicueta suffered injuries and were all largely unavailable to Potter during his stint. Despite a squad that included nearly 40 players, this was a significant setback.
Additionally, Thiago Silva was sidelined with a knee injury after a game against Tottenham, and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy underwent an operation for his fractured finger. Meanwhile, Armando Broja is only expected to return in the summer after suffering his own knee injury during a friendly.
Potter has been unlucky not to have his best players available. Full-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James have barely featured and Wesley Fofana suffered two knee injuries since joining Chelsea last summer. It left Potter scrambling to find solutions not only for his attack but for defense setup as well.
N’Golo Kante long absence might have been, however, the most impactful. Former manager Thomas Tuchel had previously described the midfielder’s ability as ‘like having half a man more on the pitch’. The French World Cup winner has made just three appearances this season in the EPL this season.
Poor transfer policy and size of the squad
Stories about Potter having to divide his 40-man squad into two camps in training have become prized sources of memes. But these tales perfectly encapsulate the manager’s issues.
Potter found a club in transition, from the boardroom to the dressing room. His tenure practically began with the departures of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and Marcos Alonso, all on free transfers. Meanwhile, Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku also left the club, meaning that the team needed to find replacements both in defense and in the attack.
Nine players from last season’s squad left in the off-season, leading to an unprecedented spending summer. Several high-profile signings were delivered to Potter in the transfer window. But this only increased the pressure put on the manager.
Chelsea spent over 300 million pounds on players such as Enzo Fernandez, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, and Joao Felix. The team’s squad sheet suddenly ballooned. But there was little time to integrate the players properly.
Former Brighton boss Potter has always been known as a hands-on coach who strives to perfect his style of play and how his team sets up in training. Unfortunately, due to the size of their squad, it has proved difficult for him to replicate that approach at Stamford Bridge.
Finally, Chelsea became a team that could just not catch a break in attack under Potter. This happened despite having at his disposal players like Raheem Sterling, Joao Felix, or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Chelsea has scored just twelve league goals since early November 2022. That’s 12 goals in 15 league games!
On Saturday, against Aston Villa, Chelsea had 27 shots, eight on target, and 69% possession but failed to score. Despite having an expected goals figure of 2.09 for this match, they lost 2-0.
Chelsea has now lost and failed to score in four Premier League home matches this season. This has only occurred twice before since 1992.
Bad luck played a part in Chelsea’s attacking woes, but this can’t be pointed as the only reason for the team’s misfortunes.
What now for Potter?
Graham Potter’s stock remains high. Reportedly, he is being considered for jobs at Tottenham and Leeds. But his reputation will take a dent.
Chelsea’s spectacular failure this season is not only due to Potter. A perfect storm of poor transfer choices, bad management of the club, and rotten luck have all played a part in the undoing of Potter’s reign as boss of the Blues.