Graham Potter in Chelsea is charming in PR, but is it misdirection before the big plot twist? | chelsea

SIx years ago, the German military launched Project Cassandra, a program designed to predict disasters and black swan events by having novelists, poets, and hackers write stories about them. What could go wrong? After all, everyone knows that writers are perfect in a crisis.

It is true that Cassandra’s operational period has so far coincided with an unforeseen pandemic and an unforeseen war. Though to be fair, the internal ministry writers were probably still arguing over the tone and leitmotifs and pacing of the third act while all this was going on. You can’t speed up the process.

But Cassandra sounds like an excellent idea, if only as a way to give poets something to do. Furthermore, I can reveal that a private sector version of this process has been successfully tested on the periphery of English football.

Some time ago I was asked, along with my colleague Jonathan Liew, to write a football TV show. We sold the pilot and four episodes to Netflix, which ultimately decided not to.

Who knows, it could still end up happening. Basically he’s sitting there waiting for Michael Sheen to come across a copy, absentmindedly glance at the first page, pause, frown, and then… oh yeah… OK CALL JEMIMA ON THE PHONE NOW I SAID NOW THIS SHIT GOT REAL.

Meanwhile, the problem facing our script is that its plot is in the process of being mimicked and overtaken by real life events. The silly, exaggerated version of the future we created has come to pass in many ways, as expressed in surprisingly precise detail by today’s version of Chelsea FC.

Our main character, a year ahead, was a Graham Potter-type manager, hired by a Chelsea-type club, taken over by a mercurial Todd Boehly-type billionaire. Our billionaire did outrageous things and “disturbed” everything in his line of sight. Our Potter avatar started out terribly and then got better, retaining his everyman vibe amidst this flux.

Eventually, it transpired that the manager was only intent on being a nice lieutenant. It was all a diversionary pantomime setting the stage for a new billionaire-led global hyperleague that would destroy existing structures and transform football (finally!) into brain-broadcasting technology.

Graham Potter: Retaining his everyman vibe after Chelsea’s win against Borussia Dortmund. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

There is no suggestion that Boehly or anyone else associated with the European soccer elite may have been influenced by our script. I’m not saying that. You may be saying it. I am not. But a familiar story arc seems to be at play here, with an increasingly uncertain ending.

By now we have the first shoots of a Potter revival. And when it comes to purely Chelsea matters, something has changed. It used to seem obvious that the appointment of Graham Potter to oversee some kind of crack football Great Gatsby was insane.

Here we have the ultimate process manager. And, on the other hand, a president who has felt like the target at the poker table, with wads of cash falling from the hems of his pants, propelled by the good old fellow-that’s-how-we-do-things. things. -Homemade inanity. No plan is disruptive enough to make sense of Boehly’s moves on the transfer market. Maybe this really is just an old fashioned car accident.

Except that something has started to feel different, and feeling is very important in football. Three wins in a row is not a transformation. But Chelsea’s signings are piling up. Potter has always been very smart with details. He keeps saying how decent and admirable they all are, which really seems to work.

From here, Chelsea could finish fifth. They are also only three wins away from becoming European champions, which (probably) 100% won’t happen, but would be a hilarious plot twist given that Potter kicked off this second round by admitting that he had never been to see a League of Champions. game.

What does seem certain is that Potter is clearly the most sensible person in this whole model of Chelsea. And contrary to expectations, he’s actually very good for the brand, to the extent that sometimes it feels like he’s washed out Potter, being pushed into liking this thing, wanting it to be real.

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Chelsea’s extreme speculative model is in many ways grotesque, sporting talent reconfigured as pure commodity, a world where spending on mega-deaths is normalized. On the other hand we have Potter in front, the precise counterpoint to that rapacious machine. And the wholesomeness of it is, frankly, overwhelming in this context.

I always wanted Potter to do well because he had shown so much promise. Now I want to be his friend. I want to go for a walk with him through the historic cemeteries in Sussex, where he says things like: it would be rude not to when you suggest stopping for flapjacks in the abbey garden. I want you to help me move house by showing up unannounced and knowing how to run the furnace, then leaving just as promptly to spend an hour at the hedgehog sanctuary.

In general, this probably won’t happen. But at a time when both football, sport and real life seem alarmingly empty of moral content, having a personable rather than sinister manager as the public face of him is excellent PR.

The point is, and this isn’t necessarily part of some big conspiracy, much bigger things are clearly going on in Big Football. The future is being divvied up by hungry hands, between a revamped Club World Cup, changes to Uefa and the push for a less crazy version of the Super League.

Two things about this are relevant. How each one feels is going to be key, because feelings stopped the latest model. And secondly, Chelsea have a role to play. Gary Neville’s interview with Aleksander Ceferin this week emphasized that the two main rejecters of the ESL Mk1 project were Chelsea and Manchester City.

Well, the Premier League have just accused City of cheating on their career. And Chelsea has a new co-chair who seems all too willing to hang on to the chandelier and try to drink the chocolate fountain. Do these obstacles still exist? Do we all still have the will?

Something will come of this misdirection. The final episode has yet to be written. All that seems certain is that there may be a plan in mind where throwing away someone else’s money for noise, heat and light is entirely sensible, a little huff off the mark before the big change. And as always, very few of us will see the plot twist coming.

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