Here’s the problem with faith: once it’s gone, it’s usually gone forever.
Occasionally there are exceptions, particularly in soccer when feelings fluctuate from week to week depending on the results.
But the moments when one’s faith is tested, those are the most revealing. Chelsea’s co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital are moving closer to that juncture with Graham Potter.
So far, the Americans’ commitment to their head coach, the first appointment of his reign, has been unwavering. Blow after blow after blow, however, the narrative that continues to emanate from the Stamford Bridge boardroom is one of faith.
Faith in a coach whose team has lost three in a row. Faith in a coach whose team has won twice in 15 games. Faith in a coach whose team has scored one goal in six games.
Chelsea’s faith in head coach Graham Potter (pictured) is beginning to look blind, not sane
The Blues lost 2-0 against rivals Tottenham on Sunday afternoon, their third defeat in a row
The result means the west London side have won just twice in their last 15 matches.
Is it blind faith? It is increasingly difficult to argue otherwise.
On Sunday night, just hours after Chelsea’s latest setback, a 2-0 loss to Tottenham, the feeling that Potter retained Boehly’s back and Clearlake supremo Behdad Eghbali still reigned supreme.
However, suddenly there seem to be the first signs of apprehension about his continued support of Potter given evidence suggesting that doing otherwise would be more sensible.
If doubts arise and sports mail they are led to believe that they are, then it would be natural. It would be more surprising if no questions were asked.
More negativity in their next two games, against Leeds and Borussia Dortmund, then the current malaise will become palpable.
Loss of faith can be a painful experience: for those who once believed and for those who no longer believe. Perhaps it explains why Potter is still in charge of Chelsea.
But the next nine days, certainly if Chelsea extend their winless run to eight games, will be indicative of how solidly that faith sits.
The owners have spent £600m on new talent in two transfer windows, it’s entirely fair that they feel they should get better value for money.
Co-owners Todd Boehly (left) and Behdad Eghbali (center) started the game in high spirits.
But at the end of the game, the punished couple looked on with sad expressions (pictured)
US tycoon Boehly will expect more from him given his massive January investment
The loss to Spurs on Sunday was the last punishing experience for Potter. For about 25 minutes, they played pretty well. But when they fell behind early in the second half, his response was weak. That is a concern.
The fact that Boehly was present when fans voiced their discontent for the second week in a row is an interesting dynamic.
If they lose to Leeds at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, the dissension will become tangible, and not drowned out by the euphoric Tottenham supporters.
What happens then? More support? More faith? At what point do Chelsea owners become guilty? If they lose to Leeds? What if they are knocked out of the Champions League next week? If they are relegated?
Of course, that final suggestion is nonsense, although Sunday’s loss in the London derby leaves Chelsea closer to the relegation zone (10 points) than it is to the Champions League places (14 points).
But as refreshing as Chelsea’s endorsement of Potter has been, when does doing nothing get meaningless?
Sections of an increasingly disgruntled fan base have already made up their minds and the focus will be on the owners if there is no quick upgrade or manager change.
In fact, even Potter himself couldn’t hide the fact that the walls are closing in after Sunday’s loss.
‘I haven’t done enough at this club to have too much good faith; I accept it,’ he said. “If the results aren’t good enough, you can’t rely on support forever.”
Chelsea spent nearly £200m on Enzo Fernández (right) and Mykhailo Mudryk (centre)
£75m signing Wesley Fofana (right) came on but couldn’t stop Spurs from scoring twice
It must be emphasized that Potter has conducted himself with great dignity throughout what can thus far only be described as a terrible season.
Claims that he is not “angry” enough to succeed as Chelsea are misplaced. However, dignity will only get you so far.
Actually, Potter probably would have been fired by now under Roman Abramovich. So far, Boehly and Egbali have shown more patience.
There is no precedent for guessing, however informed, about when patience may start to wear thin. More pain against Leeds on Saturday, however, then we can find out just how forgiving they are.