Graham Potter’s debut as Chelsea manager could hardly have been much worse.
The Blues’ 4-0 FA Cup third round humiliation at Manchester City has increased the pressure on the former Brighton boss as his troubled first few months at Stamford Bridge show no signs of improving.
Sitting 10th in the Premier League after just one win in their last eight matches and now out of both domestic cup competitions, some of Chelsea’s traveling fans were heard chanting the name of former boss Thomas Tuchel and the ex-owner Roman Abramovich during their Etihad capitulation.
Former England striker Alan Shearer described the first half as “unacceptable”, “embarrassing” and “pathetic”, while Potter himself admitted Chelsea were “clearly suffering as a football club”.
A brace from Riyad Mahrez and strikes from Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden were deserved rewards for a dominant display from Manchester City and serious questions about Potter’s future – just four months into his reign – are getting hotter. increasingly stronger.
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“We are clearly suffering as a club”
Chelsea sacked Tuchel, who won three trophies in 20 months at Stamford Bridge, in September when the Blues were sixth in the top flight after a summer in which they spent €255m on transfers.
But new owner Todd Boehly’s decision to bring Potter in from Brighton has yet to pay off, with the club now 10 points from Champions League places.
Chelsea failed to get a shot in a first half which Potter described as ‘painful’, even vaguely failing to threaten Stefan Ortega’s goal until a 54th-minute Mason Mount shot went wide. of life.
Potter, who can point to an injury crisis that kept nine players out of this game and led to teenager Bashir Humphreys making his defence, said: “The results in a short time are not positive.
“You can make excuses and look for reasons or say it’s not good enough. Both of these answers are correct.
“We have to keep improving and sticking together because we are clearly suffering as a football club and it’s not pleasant at all. But that’s where we are at the moment.
“We can’t do anything except do our job better and work harder. You understand the frustration of the supporters, we respect that. But our job is to keep working. »
The Premier League champions took a 3-0 lead on Sunday, causing traveling supporters to greet the half-time whistle with a chorus of boos.
And, while things improved slightly after the break, Chelsea owners probably left no doubt about the anger surrounding the club.
Shearer told BBC Sport: “From Chelsea’s perspective, that first half was not acceptable. I don’t care how many injuries you have, you always have to make a change and it’s embarrassing because you don’t.
“It was far from enough. Look at their body language, they looked like they didn’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 were just pathetic in forward positions.
“They have a big week ahead, they have to show more. »
“I would say give it time”
Former Ostersunds FK and Swansea City manager Potter led Brighton to ninth place last season, the highest finish in the club’s history.
He guided them to fourth in the table this season – having won four, drawn one and lost one of their first six Premier League games – before joining Chelsea in October.
However, a manager previously hinted at as a potential future England boss is under increasing pressure after just eight wins in his first 18 appearances at Chelsea.
“I would say to Todd Boehly, ‘give him time’,” said Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. “I know that at big clubs results are important but I would say give it time.
“The second half is what it is. What he did at Brighton is outstanding, but…we need time in the first season. I had (Lionel) Messi at Barcelona my first season, so I didn’t need two seasons because Messi was there. »
Shearer agrees with Guardiola and thinks what Chelsea saw in Potter four months ago should still hold true now.
The former Newcastle striker said: “They have to stick with him, it would be crazy to do anything else. They have spent a fortune again but lack someone who can put the ball in the back of the net.
“They have to stick together and stay with him and give him time to turn around. There’s a reason they went for him, a reason they took all his staff with him and they have to give him time. »
“First stirring noises for Potter and Boehly” – analysis
BBC Sport football editor Phil McNulty: Chelsea manager Graham Potter and owner Todd Boehly heard the first sounds of unrest from supporters who were fed the diet of success during the FA Cup capitulation to Manchester City.
It was certainly an inauspicious start for the duo. The manager has a long injury list but still has enough quality and experience at his disposal to do much better than suffering six defeats in nine games.
Boehly, meanwhile, has certainly got his hands dirty on transfers, but his policy seems unstructured or strategic and Chelsea are feeling the impact of losing a lot of boardroom experience as well as a manager seen as one of the elite in the game. .
Chelsea are far from the top four places and do not deserve a mention in the title race. They’re in foreign territory compared to recent history, but they’re such an irrelevant team, with a new manager and new owner struggling to create some sort of identity, that their current status is an accurate measure of the exact place where they are.
‘The worst football decision of 2022’ – what you said
Tim: Chelsea have injury problems and have been missing a point for 2-3 seasons, but they are much worse under Potter. He is miles short of his depth, has never coached international players in a team that should win. Unfortunately, he has to leave.
Johnny: I’m a season ticket holder at Chelsea and I think that’s the last straw for Potter. He is unfortunately not the quality of Chelsea. It’s absolutely abyssal and that’s enough.
RealAleScouser: I thought Potter would be fired before Christmas, and he might not make it to the end of the season.
Stavros: Worst footballing decision of 2022 (and perhaps of the century): dismissing Thomas Tuchel.
Steve: If you were to blame Potter for this mess, you’d be wrong. It’s someone else’s team (who didn’t play for them either), same egos, you can’t blame Potter for that. You can’t expect instant results with these players and if you do, it’s extremely naive. He barely had time. Did he even approve or want the two new signings they have?
Tim: It’s laughable that someone is asking for Potter’s head. The same people who complain that managers don’t have enough time. These are the same players who let Lampard and Tuchel down, so why bin Potter? Give him over five months to straighten them out, then let him build a team. The pressure exerted on his work from the outside is a joke!
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