Graham Potter is under pressure at Chelsea but he still has the support of at least one of the club’s owners.
Chelsea, who sit 10th in the Premier League table and 14 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, have won just once in their last 11 matches in all competitions – scoring four goals in that time – while they have failed to record a victory in any away match since October 16.
Defeat at Tottenham on Sunday increased the scrutiny on Potter’s position at Stamford Bridge, but the feeling is that changing managers now would be a step backwards, not forwards, for the Blues, especially because of the investment made in new players and building a new structure around the head coach.
Since the arrival of new Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have spent more than £600m in bringing in 19 new players to the squad, including Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez for a British transfer record fee of £106.8m
However, results have failed to pick up for Potter, who left Brighton to join Chelsea last September, signing a five-year deal in west London.
He has now won just nine of his 26 matches as Chelsea boss since being recruited from Brighton in September, and their defeat in north London means his side are on their longest run without an away win in the Premier League in 22 years.
They were also beaten 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Borussia Dortmund, having already been knocked out at the third round stage of both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup by Manchester City.
What’s next for Chelsea?
Chelsea’s next game is at home to Leeds on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.
The Blues will then try to overturn their 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 when the Germans visit Stamford Bridge for the second leg on Tuesday March 7; kick-off 8pm.
Potter: I can’t rely on board support forever
Potter admitted after defeat at Tottenham that he had not produced enough at Chelsea to deserve an unlimited amount of support, but likened his situation to that experienced by Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp at Arsenal and Liverpool, respectively.
He said: “The results are not good enough for Chelsea. I take full responsibility for those results.
“I thought the players gave everything, it’s just that the goal changes the complexion of the game and that made it difficult for us.
“If results aren’t good enough, which they aren’t at the moment, you can’t rely on support forever.”
When asked in his post-match press conference whether he accepts the owners’ support could eventually disappear, Potter responded: “There’s always that question, absolutely, and you can’t stop the questions, and whilst the results are like they are then I accept it – it’s part of the job.
“We were talking before the game about watching the Arsenal All or Nothing [documentary] and two years into Mikel’s reign he’s close to getting the sack and people are wanting him out and it’s a disaster. Obviously now things have changed a little bit but that’s just the way it is.
“If you look at Jurgen’s (Klopp) situation, they [Liverpool] haven’t got the results and all of a sudden people want him out.
“That’s just the nature of football and obviously I haven’t done enough at this club to have too much good faith and I also accept that as well. My job is to not worry too much about that.
“I understand the question and totally understand where it comes from and just to try to focus on helping the team and supporting the players because I really like these players. They’re good lads, they want to do better, they want to win but at the moment we’re suffering and that’s my responsibility.”
Potter’s Chelsea going backwards – how long will owners’ support continue?
Chelsea have continued to go backwards under Graham Potter despite owners’ backing and record January spending – and now the fans’ support is draining.
‘I could have played for Chelsea vs Spurs – it was so slow!’
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“It’s the worst I’ve seen at Chelsea in over 20 years. The fans are fuming now. I was at the game against Tottenham on Sunday and that’s the most hostile I’ve ever heard it among the Chelsea support.
“I think Graham Potter will get the next two games, Leeds and Dortmund in the Champions League. It doesn’t actually matter what happens in the Leeds match, it all comes down to the Dortmund game.
“It’s the only competition Chelsea can win, they’re out of the FA Cup and won’t get in the top four, and there’s no way they can go into a Champions League game without a manager, it’s pointless. People may say it won’t be any worse, but it won’t be any better. It’s a massive week.
“At Tottenham, they didn’t look like scoring a goal in a year of Sundays. Mykhailo Mudryk is an £88m signing sitting on the bench, it tells you he’s not Potter’s player. If he was his player and he’d have gone to the board and said he needed him, and would have to play him.
“When Chelsea lost 1-0 at Dortmund, I thought they’d definitely beat them in the second leg. Since then, I don’t see how they will score two goals in a match.
“They never looked like scoring at Spurs. I could have played for Chelsea on Sunday when they had the ball because it was so slow – and I’m 54! I can’t run around anymore but I can pass the ball, and I could have played in the team. It was slow, sideways, backwards, I can play like that at my age.
“Chelsea’s biggest game is Tottenham and it was lacklustre. They could still be playing now and they wouldn’t have scored. I can’t remember getting excited once in the game by them.
“Chelsea beat Tottenham four out of four times last season, twice in the cups, twice in the league and that was when they had Heung-Min Son playing on fire. Now he’s coming off the bench and they still can’t get a result.
“I like Potter, they should give him a chance, but one goal in six games, one win in 11, two wins in 16. That is absolutely a no-go. It’s extraordinary.”
Hasselbaink: Owners will give Potter time but he needs results
Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes under-pressure Potter will retain the board’s support despite the poor run of form – but says he must deliver in their next game against Leeds on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
He told Sky Sports: “When you are at a big club, and that is Chelsea, when you lose two games in a row, that is the majority of the time already a crisis.
“These owners have come in and they want to go in a different direction and do this project. Potter is their man, so they are going to give him as much time as possible. But they will also expect something back. He is under pressure. That is what happens at big clubs.
“It’s the nature of the game. The only way he’s going to be able to control it is by winning his next game against Leeds.
“It’s good to hear that they are together and that it is a project and they are going to stick together. But on the other hand, as a manager of Chelsea, you also need to give something. You need to buy yourself time and that means you need to have some kind of results.
“At the moment, the results are not there, so the pressure on top of it is only going to get more.”
Chelsea’s next five fixtures…
Saturday March 4: Leeds (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
Tuesday March 7: Borussia Dortmund (H) – Champions League, kick-off 8pm
Saturday March 11: Leicester City (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
Saturday March 18: Everton (H) – Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm
Saturday April 1: Aston Villa (H) – Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm