Chelsea legend defends Graham Potter with Mikel Arteta sack advice for Todd Boehly
Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has come to the defence of under fire manager Graham Potter. Having lost 1-0 to managerless, rock bottom Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, the 47-year-old is under immense pressure. Since taking over from fan favourite Thomas Tuchel in September things have been far from smooth sailing and that is only epitomised by the continued negativity around Potter.
He and his side were booed off at both half-time and full- time against Saints, adding to the list of recent reactions in a similar vein. The struggles Potter has had to deal with would likely have thwarted many managers from doing a stellar job but the underlying numbers are tough to argue with.
One win in 10, three wins in 15 and just six goals since October. Marcus Rashford has scored three times more than the Blues in the past four months. Chelsea are also yet to earn a point under Potter after going behind, something they have done pretty regularly.
The mass turnover of players in the squad piled on top of similar levels of change at director level is making the whole situation far from straightforward. Fans have seen enough.
The results speak for themselves and no amount of endless small positives will change that. Even though the points aren’t flowing there have been improvements and Nevin thinks that holding the nerve for a bit longer could be priceless.
“Graham Potter, should he go or should he stay?” the former winger wrote in his Daily Mail column. “That’s not the way I think about it. I try to look for underlying positives and negatives. One positive is that only Newcastle have shipped fewer goals than Chelsea this season.
“And Chelsea are not a dull defensive team. They’re playing inventive football, as good as I’ve seen them play for a while. For 35 minutes against Borussia Dortmund, they were really, really special. And if they’re not giving much away, they don’t need to change a huge amount. It feels really close.”
On the face of it, Nevin is right. Only Newcastle have conceded less goals in the past 10 games but Chelsea have won just three of those matches in the league. It’s hard to justify or get your head around. At the same time as the undoubted increase in attacking play and creativity, nobody has scored less in the same period.
The xG is through the roof too. Chelsea have now bettered their opponents xG in eight of the last 10 games but aren’t getting the reward. Even against Southampton the first half was dreadful but the second 45 was largely dominant and Raheem Sterling ought to have had at least one goal to his name.This doesn’t account to much for the supporters though and Nevin has pleaded for Potter to be stuck with for longer.
“If Potter is your perfect candidate, a coach who builds over time while moulding young players, and if you believe in what you’re doing, you have to be ballsy and see it out,” he added.
“Remember what Mikel Arteta went through with Arsenal? People said it wasn’t working, it was dreadful. People also forget Pep Guardiola was battered at Manchester City. It takes a while. You don’t turn around a supertanker in a bath.”
Nevin also disagrees with the wider narrative surrounding Chelsea’s transfer strategy and believes that there is method to the madness. It will all come down to results though but Todd Boehly has been advised to buck the trend and stand firm with his man.
“If the current management team pull the trigger quickly, it’s back to normality with a different manager every year — and a lot of Chelsea fans can probably cope with that,” Nevin concluded. “A lot of them want it. I just hope it isn’t the case.”