Graham Potter sack talk cheap as Tuchel comparison bears no weight at Chelsea
The Chelsea fans sung Thomas Tuchel’s name but to compare him with Graham Potter is nonsense. And who started this ‘sack talk’ anyway?
“There’s been a lot of talk about…” is an oft-used phrase on football podcasts, the radio and in studios as a method by the presenter or host to segue into a discussion about dressing-room rifts, a tactical misstep, a transfer, anything really.
There doesn’t actually need to have been “a lot of talk”; it’s merely a way to facilitate their own conversation about what people have or indeed haven’t been talking about.
Talking about a manager being sacked, or whatever else, then provides further credibility for the next people who claim “there’s been a lot of talk” about the manager being sacked, and so on and so on. But what they’re actually then talking about – and this becomes more and more true the longer the talk continues – isn’t the actual “talk”, but talk about the “talk”, which could have been first overheard on a bus from a blind drunk sociopath between mouthfuls of doner kebab, or on talkSPORT.
The “talk” doesn’t need to have come from insiders or experts on the matter at hand. In fact, “talk” about Graham Potter’s supposedly imminent sacking from Chelsea flies in the face of every statement the club has made. If Todd Boehly had said the board are mulling over whether to keep Potter at the club, that would be ‘talk about sacking Graham Potter’ worth talking about.
The “talk” in this case has ramped up after a wretched run of results for Potter and Chelsea. A reasonable person might look at Potter’s record of eight wins, four draws and six defeats and not think it that terrible, but it’s the grouping of the defeats, with all six coming in his last nine games after an unbeaten nine-game run to start his tenure, which makes things feel particularly dire.
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It’s worth considering who have beaten Chelsea: Manchester City (three times), Arsenal, Newcastle and Brighton. That’s three games against the champions, one against the runaway Premier League leaders, one against a side chasing the top four and one against a team Potter pretty much built himself.
The performances also haven’t been great, but the caveats are obvious. Potter was at one point a centre-back shy of having a whole senior XI out injured. How might Mikel Arteta be faring without ten first-teamers at Arsenal?
Those bowing tiny violins as they see Potter still able to field very well-paid internationals should perhaps take a beat and consider how hard it must be to arrive mid-season, without the benefit of a transfer window, at a club with a squad as imbalanced as Chelsea’s and mould a playing style while players drop like flies.
Thomas Tuchel, who won the Champions League having arrived mid-season, may well be a better manager than Potter, but he also had a fully fit squad, consisting of world-class players like Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante in their prime. He wouldn’t have got anywhere near his six finals as Chelsea boss with the injuries Potter has had to deal with – no manager would.
It is absurd to think the defining factor in Chelsea not being very good is Potter rather than him having half a squad to pick from.
The Chelsea owners have said Potter won’t be sacked for failing to secure Champions League football. And with the club clearly willing to spend big in January to sign players the Blues boss presumably wants, he will be given until the end of the season to make his mark. That is unless the players down tools in the hope of seeing the back of him.
But they will be aware of the club’s commitment to Potter. A show of distrust from star players towards managers worked wonders under the previous regime, but Boehly and Clearlake have made it clear that Potter is the man they want to take the club forward and with an open chequebook to sign new recruits, those players will know they’re fighting for their futures at a club that could soon be on a winning path with or without them.
It’s time to buck up, ignore the talk, and the talk of the talk, and allow Graham Potter time and space to be a success at Chelsea, because so far, everything has gone against him.