The start of Graham Potter’s life as Chelsea manager could hardly have been much worse.
The Blues’ 4-0 FA Cup third round humiliation by Manchester City has added to the pressure on the former Brighton manager, as his troubled first few months at Stamford Bridge show no signs of improving.
Sitting tenth in the Premier League after just one win in their last eight games and now out of both domestic cup competitions, a section of Chelsea’s traveling fans were heard chanting the name of former boss Thomas Tuchel and ex-owner Roman Abramovich. during his Etihad capitulation. .
Former England striker Alan Shearer described the first-half display as “unacceptable”, “shameful” and “pathetic”, while Potter himself admitted that Chelsea were “clearly suffering as a football club”.
A brace from Riyad Mahrez and goals from Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden were deserved rewards for a commanding display from Manchester City and doubts about Potter’s future, just four months into his reign, grow stronger.
“Clearly we are 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 over from Brighton has not yet paid off, with the club now 10 points out of the Champions League places.
Chelsea missed a shot in a first half that Potter described as “painful”, not even vaguely threatening Stefan Ortega’s goal until Mason Mount’s shot in the 54th minute went wide.
Potter, who can point to an injury crisis that has left nine players out of this match and led to the teenager Bashir Humphreys making his senior defense debut, said: “The results in a small space of time are not positive.
“You can make excuses and find reasons or say it’s not good enough. Both answers are correct.
“We have to keep improving and stick together because clearly we are suffering as a football club and it’s not pretty. But that’s where we are at the moment.”
“We can’t do anything but do our job better and work harder. You understand the frustration of the fans, we respect that. But our job is to keep working.”
The Premier League champions cruised to a 3-0 lead on Sunday, prompting traveling fans to hail the halftime whistle to a loud chorus of boos.
And, while things improved marginally after the break, it’s likely that Chelsea’s owners were left in no doubt about the anger surrounding the club.
Shearer told BBC Sport: “From Chelsea’s point of view, the first half was not acceptable. I don’t care how many injuries you have, you still have to make a change and it’s shameful because they haven’t.
“It wasn’t good enough. Look at their body language, it 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’ve been nothing short of pathetic in the forward positions.
“A big week is coming up, they have to show more.”
‘I would say give it time’
Potter, a former manager of Ostersunds FK and Swansea City, led Brighton to ninth place last season, the highest result in the club’s history.
He guided them to fourth in the table this season, after winning four, drawing one and losing one of their first six Premier League games, before joining Chelsea in October.
However, a manager previously mooted as a possible future England manager is under increasing pressure after just eight wins from his first 18 games at Chelsea.
“I would say to Todd Boehly, ‘give him time,'” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said. “I know that in the big clubs, the results are important, but I would say that they give it time.
“The second half is what it is. What he’s done in 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 believes that what Chelsea saw in Potter four months ago should still hold true now.
The former Newcastle striker said: “They’ve got to keep him, it would be crazy to do anything else. They’ve spent a fortune again, but they’re missing someone who can put the ball into the back of the net.”
“They have to stick together and stay with him and give him time to turn things 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 sounds of upset for Potter and Boehly’ – analysis
BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty: Chelsea manager Graham Potter and owner Todd Boehly heard the first sounds of discomfort from supporters who have been fed a diet of success during the FA Cup capitulation at Manchester City.
It’s certainly been an inauspicious start for the duo. The coach has a laundry list of injuries, but he still has enough quality and experience at his disposal to do much better than suffering six losses in nine games.
Meanwhile, Boehly has certainly reached into his transfer pocket, but there appears to be little structure or clear strategy to his policy and Chelsea are feeling the pinch of losing a lot of experience from their boardroom, as well as a manager regarded as one. of the elite of the game. .
Chelsea are far from the top four and do not deserve a mention in the title race. They’re in strange territory compared to recent history, but this is a team so out of place, with a new manager and new owner struggling to create some sort of identity, that their current state is an accurate measure of where they are. exactly.
‘Worst football decision of 2022’: What you said
Tim: Chelsea have injury problems and have lacked the leading edge for 2-3 seasons, but are much worse off under Potter. He is miles away from his depth, never coaching international players on a team that should be winning. He unfortunately has to go.
Jonny: I am a Chelsea season ticket holder and I think this is the last straw for Potter. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the quality of Chelsea. This is absolutely abysmal and enough is enough.
RealAleScouser: He was thinking that Potter would be fired before Christmas, maybe he wouldn’t make it to the end of the season.
Stavros: Worst football decision of 2022 (and perhaps of the century): Take out Thomas Tuchel.
Steven: 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 cannot expect instant results with these players and if you do, it is extremely naive. He has barely had time. Did you not even approve or want the two new signings they have?
Tim: It’s ridiculous for someone to ask 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 more than five months to fix them, and then let him assemble a team. The amount of pressure put on his work from the outside is a joke!