Chelsea’s Decision To Stick With Potter Is Clear Sign Of Intent From The New Owners
Todd Boehly’s decision to stand with his manager through a very rough spell is yet another indication that the American’s era on the blue side of London will be completely different to that of his predecessor….
Written By Onyeka Daniel
To say Chelsea have been poor lately may be a little harsh, given the circumstances with the new coach and the injury crisis. They however haven’t been getting the right results and that is weighing heavily on the team and the coaching crew especially. Factoring in the club’s spending spree during the January transfer window, it is pretty much obvious why the fan base are growing impatient and calling for the sack of Graham Potter.
In the true sense however, it is almost impossible for the former Brighton and Hove Albion manager to be sacked by the club and the only way both parties could part ways would be if Potter decides to resign. With this in consideration, we take a look at the several pointers that seems to indicate that Chelsea and Potter will be in for the long haul, at least until the end of the season.
When he was announced in September after leaving his post as coach of EPL side, Brighton and Hove Albion, he had a €23 million release clause, which Todd Boehly had no issue paying as he wanted to bring the expressive type of football being played by the Seagulls to the London club.
As the popular saying goes however, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, so the Chelsea owners wouldn’t have expected the project to start to bear fruit immediately and there are several examples that support this. Take the case of their London neighbors Arsenal as an example, Mikel Arteta in his first season had his ups and downs. He couldn’t even string together some positive results, but the club stood by him and despite missing out on a UCL place, they still believed in the project and supported him in the transfer market and now, they have a genuine shot at winning the EPL title this season and they’re also the most consistent side in the EPL and one of the most consistent in the top five Leagues in Europe, hence it’s quite understandable why Arteta knows exactly what it feels like to be in Potter’s shoes.
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After their last defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, the call for Potter to be sacked continued to gain traction, but it doesn’t look like Boehly will be going that route. Chelsea’s new owners have indicated they intend to break from the hire and fire culture of the past 20 years by handing Potter a five-year contract and a say in the search for a sporting director. Going by his exploits with Los Angeles Dodgers, a baseball team, it very obvious that Boehly is a man of patience, and his antecedents from the American base ball team is a testament to that fact. Taking a team from the brink of ruin to becoming successful over a period of two to three years.
But will fans of Chelsea be patient enough to be able to see the end result? Because sacking the coach may not be the ultimate solution as history has always proven. Also, injuries hasn’t been fair to the team. At a point, they had as many as 12 players out with various injuries and this problem was inherited from the previous coach. Hence, Potter can hardly be blamed for this, in fact, he should be praised for his handling of the situation even if the club’s crazy spending in the winter helped to a large extent. While people have been known to go back on their words, for Boehly and the Chelsea board, they face many dilemma and they can only hope that the former Brighton coach can turn things around and start bringing in the results, as they’re now caught between the ‘devil and the deep blue sea’.
With Potter still in the first year of his five year contract and on a salary of about €10 to €12 million a year, it will a very bad economic decision to sack him now as the club will have to fork out between €40 to €50 million to release him from his contract and right on top of that, they will also have to pay the new coach and factoring in the fee they paid to free him from his contract with Brighton, the club could be looking at an expenditure of close to €100 million spent on the coaching crew alone in a season. Furthermore, sacking him now could have a domino effect on the team and how they go about their transfer activities in the summer.
So far, players have been signed to suit his pattern of play and bringing in another coach would mean trying to satisfy the new coach with a minimum of two or three signings too. It’s quite understandable why majority of Chelsea’s fan base are calling for Potter’s head, with the coach revealing that he has even received death threats, as they’re used to the hiring and firing approach of the Roman Abramovich era, but patience will have to be their new watchword, at least under Boehly.
After the 1-0 loss to Southampton, there were reports that the coach was given a three game ultimatum to turn things around or be sacked. Potter did confirm that he had a meeting with the board over his position after the loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the EPL, claiming he has to stay focused on victory in the next game against Leeds. He told reporters ahead of the game:
“There is support and, of course, I’ve spoken to them. But I’m not going to hide behind that. The results haven’t been good enough for us and I’m responsible for that. When you’re a coach, if the results are good you accept the criticism and noise that comes with it. My job is to stay with the team, stay focused, try to prepare the team as well as I can, and win the game tomorrow.”
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He was indeed able to turn things around, grabbing three maximum points in the next two games (Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund) while also qualifying the team for the next stage of the UCL. But time will tell if the results will continue coming in or not. The manager is yet to lose support from his players though, with the need to pick up results in the next few weeks to quiet talks over his future, something he has been able to do, but the performances are leaving a lot to be desired at the moment.
While Chelsea are known for going through different coaches over a short period of time, maybe just this time, they could be in for the long haul and should Potter manage to turn things around at the Stamford Bridge, it will be another feather in the cap for the former Brighton coach and of course Todd Boehly for sticking with the manager in the face of bad results.
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