What went wrong for Graham Potter at Stamford Bridge and what next for Chelsea?

File photo dated 29-10-2022 of Chelsea manager Graham Potter. Chelsea have sacked Graham Potter as head coach, the club have announced. Issue date: Sunday April 2, 2023.
Sacked Chelsea manager Graham Potter Credit: PA

Chelsea are seeking another head coach having sacked Graham Potter after just 31 games in charge. The Blues removed Potter after losing to Aston Villa and slipping into the bottom half of the Premier League table. The former Brighton boss had only taken the reins in September but it was ultimately decided he was no longer the man to drive the club forward after a near £600million spend on new recruits. Here, we look at the current situation and what comes next for Chelsea following their latest managerial sacking. Where did it go wrong for Potter? Having impressed at Brighton in recent years, the well-respected, up-and-coming Potter landed a big job when he headed to Stamford Bridge in September. So keen was new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly to get his man that he paid £21.5million to get him out of his contract on the south coast. Potter, though, found a club that was in flux, Boehly spending heavily to land some of Europe’s biggest names and begin his own dynasty in west London. A total of £566million was spent and a January splurge on World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez for a British-record fee and sought-after Ukraine winger Mykhailo Mudryk. Such a turnover in players for such big fees was never going to help Potter hit the ground running and he never truly got to grips with the task at hand, despite guiding Chelsea to a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid. Who is in charge now? Bruno Saltor, who coached at Brighton under Potter and followed him to Chelsea, will take over on a temporary basis. The 42-year-old has no prior managerial experience but will at least have worked with the squad in recent weeks. Saltor will want to make a splash in his first top job, regardless of how long he gets to show what he can do. Installing the Spaniard will at least add some much-needed level of stability to the club for what could be a rocky few weeks as Boehly and his team decide who the next permanent incumbent will be, with Chelsea looking to make Champions League progress and climb back up the Premier League table.

Potter only had 31 games in charge at Chelsea Credit: PA

Who could be next in the hotseat? While dropping to 11th and sitting 12 points off the top four – the same gap to the bottom three – will not have helped Potter’s cause, timing can sometimes be everything in football. Potter’s predecessor Thomas Tuchel had been installed as Bayern Munich head coach a little over a week before as Julian Nagelsmann was sacked. Nagelsmann will be the early front-runner to make the move to Chelsea, with fellow out-of-work coaches Mauricio Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Zinedine Zidane also likely to be heavily linked. Boehly may feel he has had his fingers burnt by attempting to appoint a head coach with potential but also a lack of experience at a top club and landing a big name could also assuage any player unrest at the situation. Whoever it is, what will they need to do differently? The upheaval in the first-team ranks did not help Potter settle into the role and his team selection and tactics were never really established. Boehly, and Chelsea as a whole, will want more stability despite a steady stream of trophies continuing to roll in among the high turnover of managers. Whoever is tasked with replacing the 47-year-old will need to have a clear approach to how they want to play and which of the new acquisitions are suited – meaning there could be some awkward conversations early on. Dealing with such issues is another reason Boehly may be tempted to look at a well-established top-level coach. …and what next for Potter? After building up a fine reputation at Brighton, Potter will be keen to get back on the horse and show his Chelsea stint was a rare blip. Tottenham and Leicester are currently in the market for a new boss and either role would allow Potter to get straight back to work in the Premier League – if that is what he feels he needs. Formerly manager of Swedish side Ostersunds and Swansea, Potter revealed he and his family had received death threats after his poor start at Chelsea and he may yet opt for some time out of the spotlight. Whenever he does return, the chances are his record before moving to Stamford Bridge will hold him in good stead with any potential employers and he will be keen to show what he can do.

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