Severe Fall Fraom Grace
Chelsea’s fall from grace has become so severe that they’re often not fancied by football fans to win games that, on-paper, they should be acing. For the most successful English club of the 21st-century, the idea of Chelsea being a middle-of-the-road side must be infuriating to their supporters, a large number of which have grown-up in the trophy-laden Abramhovic era.
Graham Potter’s stock has also fallen, with the manager being the subject of ridicule on social media and whose destiny to become a future England manager looks more unlikely than ever. The sudden pendulum-swing looks particularly jarring considering the bright start the 47-year-old made upon his appointment in September, with the club winning 4 and drawing 1 of his first five games in-charge.
What’s Going Wrong For Potter?
It’s difficult to distill Chelsea’s problems down to a few sound-bites, but the malaise at Stamford Bridge can best be explained by one word - transition.
Chelsea have endured poor seasons before, most notably in 2015/16, but Abrahmovic would always change the manager before things became catastrophic. The Blues finished 10th in that infamous season, but they won the Premier League the next season with a new manager. The club sacked Roberto Di Matteo just months after delivering Champions League glory and even booted-out club-legend Frank Lampard after some indifferent form. It’s safe to say there wasn’t much room for sentimentality at the old Chelsea, and the owners always made sure that the club avoided becoming stagnant.
But this is a new Chelsea and the owners have a different philosophy. Todd Boehly is determined to make the London club a serious force, but is doing so in a different, more patient manner. This may not be a good enough excuse for Blues fans, but the lull at Stamford Bridge isn’t all Potter’s fault.
Chelsea have signed 18 players since the new owners arrived, and it’ll take time for a play-style to emerge with the squad. Enzo Fernandes, Joao Felix, Benoit Badiashille, and several others have arrived in recent months, with the coaching staff having to implement them into the side as effectively as possible.
A lot of managers would envy Potter’s embarrassment of riches, but the reality is he’s overseeing a side who are yet to gel. This was particularly evident against Southampton, where Chelsea’s attacks looked stilted, wooden, and extremely predictable.
The other elephant in the Stamford Bridge dressing room is the fact that a huge number of Chelsea’s more experienced players are on the injured list.
N’Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, Reece James, Matteo Kovacic, and Raheem Sterling were or currently are injured, whilst Jorginho, Antonio Rudiger, and Marcus Alonso have all departed.
This is not the same Chelsea side who hit such great heights under Thomas Tuchel, so it’s futile to compare the 2020/21 or even the 21/22 sides to the current squad.
Graham Potter is not blameless for Chelsea’s slump, but there is always a lot of nuance when it comes to discussing a team’s poor form. Calls for Potter’s exit will continue to grow regardless of where Chelsea finish this season, and it looks a long road back for the club who won 19 trophies in 19 years under their old regime.
There are glimpses of improvement, but there isn’t a Chelsea fan alive who would argue that £600 million was a solid investment for ‘being on the right track’.
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