Something has got to give at Chelsea or Graham Potter could be done for

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Chelsea have won just eight of their first 16 matches under Graham Potter.

Graham Potter, a man who is a good chunky piece of knitwear and a chewing tobacco habit away from morphing into a 19th century lighthouse keeper, has spent a lot of time staring into the Pacific lately. Windswept and pensive, he has waited by the shoreline, gazing into the yawning beyond of the ocean, musing in forlorn puzzlement. Perhaps a seagull caws, and a single tear rolls down his cheek.

Things have not necessarily followed the anticipated script since Potter left Brighton for Chelsea late last year. Sixteen games and just eight victories in, the 47-year-old’s most impressive trait has proven to be his general affability, and his star man still remains whichever West London barber is now cutting his hair. The Blues have won just one game of football since Bonfire Night, a sole 2-0 stroll against temperamental Bournemouth, and concerningly for Potter, discord surrounding his tenure has already began to simmer.

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It’s little wonder, therefore, that by his own admission, he was somewhat distracted during a recent holiday to California with his wife, Rachel. “She’s thinking about what a wonderful time we’re having”, Potter explained, “And I’m thinking about Chelsea Football Club.”

Graham Potter, manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match at Newcastle United’s St. James Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)Graham Potter, manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match at Newcastle United’s St. James Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Graham Potter, manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match at Newcastle United’s St. James Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images) | Getty Images

You get the impression that the Stamford Bridge boss is not the kind of person to hurry himself into rash decisions. Certainly, you would imagine that it must have taken quite the spell of contemplative soul-searching before he acquiesced to cleaving himself from a Brighton project that was widely lauded as one of the most promising and sustainable in English football. Talk of a top six appointment was always likely to follow such acclaim, but a Chelsea side that has traditionally prided itself on solidity and prioritised conservatism over all else perhaps didn’t feel like the most obvious destination for a manager whose Albion team could rival just about anybody for aestheticism, especially between both boxes.

But still, Potter went, and now, just a few short months later, he wouldn’t be human if he hadn’t been beset by the odd doubt. Had he been lured to the capital during the cutthroat barbarism of the Roman Abramovich era, when Chelsea changed managers more frequently than most people see their dentist, he might already have been hanging by the proverbial thread. How different things will prove to be under Todd Boehly, a man who thus far has exhibited a leadership style that has veered between Michael Scott and Hank Scorpio, remains to be seen. Idle speculation would have us believe that the Blues are in for a busy January. If that is the case, then you would hope at least that Potter will be given the opportunity to sculpt this squad into something resembling his own vision before anybody does anything too hasty about his future.

And if we’re to give him the benefit of the doubt, that might be necessary too. This, let’s not forget, is the same group of players that Thomas Tuchel deemed to be ‘not tough enough’ following an insipid run of form earlier in the season, the same group of players who have looked far too easy to bully and rattle for far too long. In the end, they played their part in Tuchel’s departure, and they could do the same to Potter - unless something changes. Whether that means a flurry of investment this month, or just a revitalisation of the general, for want of a better word, vibe around the dressing room, who can say? But it needs to happen, and it needs to happen quickly.

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Forcing your way into top six management is a bit like socialising with the popular kids at school; you might be frequenting that circle now, but one faux pas and you could be ostracised forever. Just ask David Moyes. Potter will know this better than most, and will be desperate to prove that he genuinely has what takes to mix it with the big boys. Up until this point, his talent and potential have seemingly never been in question, but should he fluff his lines at this crucial juncture, that might just be him done and dusted. Finished. Finito. Football, after all, can be a unforgiving game to navigate, and who guides the lighthouse keeper when he gets lost?

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