Graham Potter is set for a tough test at Chelsea


At the start of the season, the thought of Chelsea parting ways with Thomas Tuchel almost seemed too good to be true.

The German arrived at the start of 2021 following the departure of club legend Frank Lampard and delivered the goods within just four months of taking the job. Tuchel guided the Blues to their second ever Champions League title with a win over Manchester City in the final in Porto.

He soon added the Super Cup and Club World Cup to their ever-growing list of honours. Even during one of the club’s most chaotic periods in their history, in which their former owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned and the club went through a change of ownership, he steadied the ship and ensured Chelsea finished third in the Premier League.

Two cup finals, narrowly lost via penalty shootouts against Liverpool, would also add to a successful season, given the circumstances. But on Wednesday morning, Tuchel’s time at Stamford Bridge came to an end. Following their 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, he was dismissed.

Once again, Chelsea began their search for a new manager. Soon enough though, Graham Potter was identified as a potential replacement, alongside former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino. The former was eventually announced as the new boss in SW6, a huge appointment for the 47-year-old.

Since he arrived at Brighton and Hove Albion in 2019, Potter has become one of the most exciting managerial talents in English football.

Having started at Leeds Carnegie, he made the move to Ostersund in Sweden in 2011, a move that would soon see him elevate his presence as a manager. When he joined over a decade ago, his side were sitting in the fourth division of Swedish football.

Potter soon guided the club to the top flight, and their Svenska Cupen win in 2017 was the catalyst for their participation in the Europa League. They finished second in their group but were knocked out of the competition by Arsenal, despite beating the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.

A return to the U.K. was presented to him through the Swansea City job. He would spend just one season with the Swans before making the step up to the Premier League with Brighton.

The former left-back would make strong start in arguably the world’s most competitive league, with the Seagulls finishing in a respectable 15th place. Even though they ended the following campaign in 16th, they were able to claim wins over the likes of Spurs, Liverpool and Champions Manchester City.

Brighton went one step further last season though, with the south coast side finishing in ninth and therefore in the top half of the Premier League. 51 points was their highest total in the top flight, and their 4-0 win at home against Manchester United was a particular highlight.

Their start to the current season has also been impressive, with the Seagulls currently sitting fourth. Brighton beat United 2-1 on the opening weekend of the season, and Potter’s last game at the club saw them beat Leicester City 5-2 at home.

There is no surprise that the 47-year-old was a candidate for the Chelsea job. He is widely regarded to be one of the best up and coming head coaches in the business. Potter was also a speculated name for the England job, should Gareth Southgate leave the role after this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

However, he is now the boss at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and it will certainly prove to be one of the toughest tests he has faced in his career so far.

Ever since Abramovich took over Chelsea back in 2003, the west London side have been notorious for their hiring and firing nature. Success has to be delivered, or the club will look for alternative options.

However upon the arrival of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital as the Blues’ new custodians, there was a feeling such a culture would no longer exist. Tuchel’s sacking may have appeared to go against this at first, but it seems as though tensions had been rising since the summer.

Potter is the next man to take the job at Stamford Bridge, a massive step up in his career.

Chelsea are currently sixth in the Premier League, having claimed just three wins against Everton, Leicester City and West Ham. Their loss against Dinamo Zagreb means they have been defeated in three of their first seven games of the season, a worrying set of results for a club so used to winning.

The Blues spent the most out of any other Premier League side this summer with Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana, Denis Zakaria and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all signing. Such spending is a sign of intent from the club, but results so far have not backed it up.

Potter is now the man responsible for turning their results around. There is a good chance that he could struggle at first, but that is expected. He still needs to adapt to a new club, new surroundings and a new set of players.

There is no doubt that Chelsea have an abundance of quality at their disposal; the large majority of their squad won the Champions League only last year. They will need to soon click though, or their chances of success this season could diminish over time.

On Wednesday night, Potter will take charge of his first game at the club. It will be his debut in the Champions League, with Chelsea hosting FC Salzburg at Stamford Bridge. A win is very much needed given their recent form and after Potter has signed a five-year deal at his new club, the expectation is that he will be here for the long-term. However, given the Blues’ history with managerial appointments, he cannot afford to be too complacent.

It is a huge risk on both sides of the deal, but there is still every chance that it could pay off massively.

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