I opined at the end of the January transfer window that Chelsea would be an exciting project to watch. One month in, it appears that the project has failed to take off. Understandably so, and for many reasons. They are going through transitions in so many areas.
The team has a new owner; a man who has not shown much acumen with regard to running a game he probably calls soccer. His heavy hand in recent transfers proves this. The team also has a new manager whose profile is quite different from those of recent successful managers. While the likes of Jose Mourinho, Maurizio Sarri, Antonio Conte, and Carlo Ancelloti were hired for their experience, Potter has come in because of the potential he showed at Brighton. He fits the profile of managers who were hounded out unceremoniously. The likes of Frank Lampard and Andre Villas-Boas.
Some Eno for the Chelsea Squad?
Then there is the size of Chelsea’s current squad. Potter has around thirty players in the senior team. This is about eight more that would be ideal for him. There are reports suggesting that the manager is uncomfortable with working with such a huge number of players. Understandably so. You see, these are not ordinary players that Potter is dealing with. They are stars either in the making or owing to their achievements. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won’t be comfortable warming any bench in world football. Neither will perennial winner Raheem Sterling. Or big-money signing Mykhailo Mudryk. The discomfort of both the players and manager is reflected in their 2022/23 premier league results (W8 D7 L9). They also risk exiting the Champions League in the round of 16 after losing to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg.
The King’s Daughters…eer, Son’s Want John’s…eer, Potter’s Head
Many Chelsea fans are asking for Potter’s head. Again, understandably so. For many Chelsea fans in Kenya, this is the first major slump in their lifetime of supporting the club. Most of them boarded the ship during the flowery era of Jose Mourinho; circa 2005. They had a good six or seven years of dominance. The era of Drogba, Cech, Terry, Lampard, Cole, and their class was truly a rosy one. Their exit was tempered by the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Costa and Moses. Even when that star-studded era ended, coaches like Sarri and Conte were able to make do with the likes of Victor Moses and Olivier Giroud.
So this is all new to them. They have become a banter club like never before. Someone pointed out that Real Madrid has scored more goals in England in 2023 than Chelsea and the fans couldn’t take it. During the January window, the running joke was if you as much as kicked a can by the roadside, Chelsea would have you in their books in no time. Unfamiliar waters for the blues, these.
The result? They heap all blame on Graham Steven Potter. The man who made 320 appearances in a 13-year-long career has been accused of being clueless about football. That he came in to replace a performing Thomas Tuchel does not help he former England U-21. Many fans still can’t wrap their heads around that departure. His reasons for poor performances look like he is still digging after finding himself in a hole. Blaming a poor pre-season by his predecessor and a bloated squad is not earning him any sympathy.
Chelsea’s Vision 2031?
The club has tied down new players to contracts going beyond (Vision) 2030, indicating that they are looking at a long-term plan. But how much further do they intend to keep Potter in that plan?
Well, that’s hard to tell. What is easier to predict, however, is that they have to hit lower levels no matter what they do. Or, at least, float around in mid-table for the time being. If they keep Potter, he has to go through a tough period of moving players on. If they release him, the new manager still has that unenviable task. He might even need to sell more than Potter would.
They are bound to have an unhappy dressing room if they are not brave in the transfer market at the end of the season. Probably a revolt. That will see them sink further. And well, if Boehly has to come to the touchline, it will be absolute chaos. I hear he is looking to bring
Kylian Mbappé and Vinicius Juniour to Chelsea.
On the bright side, they have some of the best young talents in the league. Mudryk. Mount. Reece-James. Gallagher. Hall. Hudson-Odoi. Can they turn things around before Mudryk’s contract runs out (2031)? After all, the team appeared to be at its wit’s end recently when former owner Roman Abramovich had to leave. They managed to pull through.
Whatever happens, I will be there.