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Poor form puts Chelsea’s faith in Potter to the test

Four months into his reign as Chelsea manager, Graham Potter is under pressure for a run of form that would have seen many of his predecessors at Stamford Bridge fired during the Roman Abramovich era.

A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday means the Blues are already out of both domestic cups. They sit 10th in the Premier League, 10 points adrift of even a place in the top four.

It is not the start the club’s new American owners will have expected after spending over £300 million (365 million dollars) on new players to improve a squad that finished third in the Premier League last season.

Judging by the dissenting voices of the fans, it is the consortium led by chairman Todd Boehly that are responsible for the malaise on the field.

As Chelsea chased City shadows at the weekend, the travelling support at the Etihad rebelled by chanting the names of former manager Thomas Tuchel and former owner Abramovich.

Tuchel was ruthlessly sacked by the new regime just seven games into the season in what appeared a sure sign that the hire-and-fire culture was set to stay at Stamford Bridge despite Abramovich’s departure.

The Russian had shown no mercy to even illustrious managers such as Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte, who won Premier League titles during their time at Chelsea.

Despite making his name as a Premier League manager in three impressive seasons with Brighton, Potter does not have the CV to match many of his predecessors.

But Potter believes times have changed at Chelsea. He says a more patient approach promised by the new owners was one of the things that attracted him to leave Brighton in September.

‘Massive transitional period’

“There’s a completely different ownership,” Potter said after also losing to City 1-0 in Chelsea’s last league outing. “This is hard for people to get their head around as Chelsea for 20 years has been one thing and now all of a sudden it’s different.

“The reason for me to take the job was because you’ve got a chance to shape a club that is in a massive transitional period.”

One thing in Potter’s favour is that Chelsea’s £280 million transfer spend in the summer window took place before he arrived.

It also took place after the club’s transfer guru Marina Granovskaia and goalkeeper turned technical and performance advisor Petr Cech departed with Abramovich.

Boehly stepped in to head up the recruitment as sporting director.

The result has been a scattergun approach to the transfer market.

The signings of veterans past their peak, such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kalidou Koulibaly, already looks like money wasted, while more than £50 million has been splashed on a number of promising youth prospects not yet ready for the first team.

Boehly’s approach has been compared to a fan playing the video game “Football Manager” by former Manchester United captain Gary Neville. 

Injury crisis

Potter has also been hamstrung by a long injury list.

N’Golo Kante has not played since August, England internationals Reece James and Ben Chilwell missed the World Cup and have suffered lengthy lay offs and Chelsea’s most expensive summer signing, Wesley Fofana, has been restricted to four appearances.

Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic have also been ruled out for the next few weeks and Armando Broja’s season is over after he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage.

“We’ve had a massive transition and problems in terms of injuries don’t make it easy to be stable,” added Potter.

But with Chelsea in the unusual position of trailing neighbours Fulham heading into Thursday’s west London derby, Potter needs to find answers rather than excuses to keep his job.

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