IAN LADYMAN: Graham Potter takes time to cast magic at Chelsea, much like Mikel Arteta does at Arsenal
In an interview on these pages on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, Graham Potter – then manager of Brighton – commented on the progress and the prospect of a move to another, bigger club.
“There will always be small failures along the way and you just have to make sure there aren’t too many or too big ones or you’ll lose your job,” Potter said. “You can still challenge yourself, but at the same time develop and grow and stay alive in the job.
“Of course, surviving is part of getting a job. You ask, “What are the chances of being myself here? Keeping working? Do you understand how I got to this point?”
Graham Potter got off to a slow start in life at Chelsea after taking on the role in September
“Because there’s no point in going anywhere and they’re expecting something completely different than what they’ve always been.”
With Potter’s Chelsea in ninth place and on a streak of just one win in seven league games following Sunday’s disheartening draw at Nottingham Forest, those words seem relevant now.
When Potter left Brighton for Chelsea in September, the version of the 47-year-old they wanted, the one who rebuilt clubs and teams from the inside, was the one Brighton had last slowly rebuilt and improved over three seasons.
When they first met, new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly told Potter he wanted a transformative manager, someone who could introduce a new culture, a new style of play and a new recruitment model from the top of the club down to the academy. The problem is that at a club like Chelsea you also have to be the type of manager who can do it and win football games at the same time.
Chelsea currently sit 9th in the league after a disappointing draw against Nottingham Forest
It’s new for Potter and it’s his biggest challenge at the moment. His team won nine games in his debut season at Brighton, just like the season before under Chris Hughton. In his second, they again won nine. Concretely, it was a slow burn.
Despite all the discernible differences in Brighton football, the truth was that the real benefits of Potter’s work were not felt until his third season, and indeed early this season.
At Chelsea it feels like a stretch that he’s being granted so much time, no matter what Boehly told his manager. Likewise, the roster at his disposal isn’t equipped to play what we might call Potter Ball. Years of classic scattergun Chelsea recruitment have left a mess.
Thomas Tuchel has warned of what lies ahead for the club after losing the FA Cup final to Liverpool on penalties last May.
It feels like a stretch that Potter is getting time at Chelsea, no matter what Boehly says
Standing in a corridor at Wembley, the German said his squad lacked depth and balance and the upcoming summer departures would only make that worse. It’s hard to say now that he was wrong and was fired before we even got to the fall.
As Potter cleaned up his desk to replace Tuchel on that dramatic day in September, someone who knows him well assessed the roster he would take on, saying: “Graham would not pick more than a small handful of those players. “
It seemed a fair analysis. Potters Brighton tore Manchester United apart on opening day at Old Trafford with a team of bright, hungry and clever players all keen to prove themselves. On that day in Manchester last August, Brighton were the brave and radiant embodiment of their manager.
It’s different at Chelsea. Potter has some really good footballers at Stamford Bridge. But he also has a central defensive pairing that no other top Premier League manager would choose and an attacking line that, with the exception of Raheem Sterling, has already proved incapable of playing consistently well under two previous managers.
Thomas Tuchel warned of what was in store for the club after losing the FA Cup final in May
Additionally, Potter doesn’t have the malleable group of young, open-minded players he needs. For Chelsea to have a thorough and proper reset under Potter, the club will need the kind of player overhaul that will take a number of transfer windows to achieve.
This has been Potter’s way for a long time, but he works in a different world now. Chelsea and Brighton are so fundamentally different that they might as well play in different leagues.
Some have already questioned Potter’s suitability for working in a really big club, and that’s a fair point. Some managers just aren’t. The time will tell. Likewise, there is a lesson to be learned from the club currently sitting at the top of the Premier League table.
Mikel Arteta has been given time off despite a poor two-season but Arsenal are currently top of the table
In Mikel Arteta’s first half at Arsenal – he was called up for Christmas 2019 – his team finished 43 points behind champions Liverpool. In the Spaniard’s time at the club, Arsenal have finished eighth, eighth, fifth and, for now, first. The team taking on Newcastle tonight will likely have two of the 11 that started Arteta’s first game just over three years ago.
The sweeping changes Arteta brought about were exactly what Potter is now striving for across London. Personnel, tactics, culture. But the key is that the Spaniard was allowed to lose the way he did. Arteta was allowed by Arsenal to have one of those phases of the mini-retirement that Potter talked about in that interview earlier in the season.
It’s tough, it’s painful and it’s not in Chelsea’s nature. But Boehly now faces this choice. If the American isn’t ready to finish sixth, seventh, eighth or worse as his new manager goes through the first phase of his job this season, he might as well sack him now.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11593157/IAN-LADYMAN-Graham-Potter-needs-time-work-magic-Chelsea-similar-Mikel-Arteta-Arsenal.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 IAN LADYMAN: Graham Potter takes time to cast magic at Chelsea, much like Mikel Arteta does at Arsenal