Chelsea owners’ support for Graham Potter has been unequivocal throughout his troubled time in charge, but Sunday’s defeat to Tottenham was enough for even the manager to admit that backing cannot last forever.
speaking to sky sports After watching his team lose 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, extending their record to one win from their last 11 games, Potter said: “If the results aren’t good enough, which they aren’t at the moment, you can ‘ I trust the support forever.”
There was more to come from the 47-year-old when he faced the print media soon after, when he conceded: “I haven’t done enough at this club to be in too much good faith.”
Potter’s honesty was refreshing but entirely in keeping with his approach since leaving Brighton to head Chelsea’s new era in September. The Englishman has not shied away from publicly addressing the issues he and his team have faced and has even addressed suggestions that Chelsea’s underperformance is linked to his apparent lack of anger.
But they weren’t the only quotes that drew attention after Spurs’ victory, after which Potter pointed to the difficulties experienced by Mikel Arteta at Arsenal and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool when answering a question about whether he accepts Todd Boehly and the The rest of the Chelsea owners could eventually withdraw their support.
“We were talking before the game about seeing Arsenal All or nothing (documentary),” he said. “Two years into Mikel’s reign, he is close to being fired and the people want him out and it is a disaster. Obviously things have changed a bit now, but that’s the way it is.
“If you look at Jurgen’s (Klopp) situation, they (Liverpool) don’t have the results and all of a sudden people want him out. That’s the nature of football.”
Potter’s decision to single out Arteta and Klopp was interesting, as both have been used by Potter supporters as examples of the success managers can enjoy if their club gives them the time.
But are their situations comparable? Well, for starters, Potter has won just nine of the 26 games he’s taken charge of as Chelsea manager, while in his first 26 games at Liverpool between October 2015 and January 2016, Klopp won 12.
The stats make even better reading for Arteta. After replacing Unai Emery in December 2019, the rookie coach took charge of 28 games until the end of the 2019/20 season, winning 16 of them.
Liverpool and Arsenal were also far more effective in front of goal during the start of their managers’ reign than Potter’s Chelsea, with Klopp’s side scoring 41 and Arteta’s 45 during that time. By comparison, Chelsea have scored 25.
The lack of statement wins has also stalled Potter’s time at Stamford Bridge. He can boast of leading his team to home and away victories against AC Milan in the Champions League group stage, but a 2-0 loss to Tottenham followed an away loss to Fulham, a home loss to Arsenal and three straight losses to Manchester City – all without scoring a goal.
Meanwhile, Klopp’s first 26 games at Liverpool saw him lead the Reds to away wins against Chelsea and City, plus home wins against Manchester United and Everton, not to mention a dramatic Europa League win over Borussia Dortmund. at Anfield.
Arteta also led Arsenal to impressive results during his early days in charge, scoring success against United, Liverpool and City at the Emirates. As with Klopp, those wins showed the Spaniard was capable of preparing his team to compete and beat his main competitors, while Potter is still trying to prove he can do it at Chelsea.
Arteta and Klopp also achieved those results after taking charge of teams at a lower point than Chelsea when Potter arrived. When he came through the door to replace Thomas Tuchel, he took charge of a team that had finished third in the Premier League the previous season, won the European Super Cup and Club World Cup, as well as reaching both Premier League finals. national cup and won the Champions League. League just 16 months before.
In Arteta’s case, he took charge of an Arsenal side that hadn’t won a trophy in over two years and had failed to finish in the top four of the Premier League for three. The scene that greeted Klopp was even more difficult, with Liverpool without a trophy in three years and having scored just one top-four finish in the previous six seasons.
In fairness to Potter, he specifically mentioned the pressure Arteta was under during his second full season at Arsenal and the scrutiny Klopp finds himself under now due to Liverpool’s struggles.
But again, context is needed. Arsenal started the 2021/22 campaign in terrible form, losing their first three Premier League games by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0. But the North Londoners went on a 10-game unbeaten run, while Arteta also had the small matter of the FA Cup he won at the end of his first season in charge to fall back on.
As for Klopp, the huge success he has enjoyed at Anfield is the perfect answer to any criticism leveled at him at the moment, with the German overseeing a first Premier League title, as well as a Champions League, Club World Cup , European Super Cup, FA Cup and League Cup during his eight years at Anfield.
Klopp can also point to the back-to-back Bundesliga titles he won with Borussia Dortmund, while Potter’s only previous trophy was the Swedish Cup he won with Ostersunds. Success is, of course, relative and Potter did an impressive job at all his previous clubs, but his lack of trophies, both at Chelsea and elsewhere, leaves him vulnerable to accusations that he lacks the requisite prestige and experience. .
Arsenal and Liverpool supporters will no doubt also point to the comparative lack of spending made by their clubs during Arteta’s and Klopp’s early transfer windows compared to Potter’s.
While Potter received £323.3m in transfers last month, Arsenal’s only arrivals during the January 2020 window were Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari, both on loan, while Klopp welcomed Marko Grujic and Steven Caulker during the exchange period of January 2016.
None of this is to say that Potter can’t and won’t succeed at Chelsea. The manager has been forced to bring in a slew of new signings mid-season, while his sponsors will also flag the idea that his methods take time for their players to fully embrace.
That is evidenced by the ninth place Brighton achieved during Potter’s third full season in charge after finishing 15th in his first year and 16th in his second.
But Chelsea, and their fans in particular, are not used to expecting success. Only a readjustment of his expectations, along with the search for some much-needed form, will help take the pressure off Potter’s shoulders.