Premier League: Potter facing the dreaded vote of confidence

Chelsea losing to Fulham for the first time in 17-years heaps more woe on under-pressure manager Graham Potter according to John Roycroft.
Premier League: Potter facing the dreaded vote of confidence

Fulham's Carlos Vinicius scores their side's second goal of the game against Chelsea at Craven Cottage, London. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

LOSING is never good, but there are, so to speak, acceptable defeats. Then there are the defeats that make fans really annoyed, and then there are the defeats that make the board come out and issue their full support of the manager and his decisions.

Graham Potter, during his short stint as manager at Stamford Bridge, has already gone through the first two stages of managerial grief and is threading very close to the precarious edge of getting the fatal full support of the chairman.

Chelsea manager Graham Potter walks off after the Premier League defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage, London. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Chelsea manager Graham Potter walks off after the Premier League defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage, London. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Fans turn

Last Sunday saw Chelsea fail to reach the FA Cup fourth round for the first time in 25 seasons. And while Chelsea are certainly struggling due to a host of injuries, it’s not like Pep Guardiola put out a full-strength team against the Pensioners. City were without Erling Haaland, Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo, and first choice keeper Ederson.

While the defeat to Pep’s boys may speak more of City’s ominous depth of strength, the manner of Chelsea’s loss proved more worrying to the Chelsea faithful.

The match was well over by half-time with City 3-0 up after the half-hour mark. And what’s worse, it appeared to be totally inevitable that the Blues were heading for defeat at the Etihad, soon as Riyad Mahrez scored the opener for City. And there was nothing Potter could do about it.

There is usually little shame in losing to a team of the stature of Man City. But this loss was different and the fans seemed to recognise it as such. This was Chelsea’s second defeat at the hands of City within a week and their third this season, the Blues going down to the Citizens in the League Cup 2-0 back in early November.

It’s probably fair to say that Chelsea fans would probably be happy to give City’s visit to the Bridge a skip if they could, but when they started to sing the names of former owner Roman Abramovich and former manager Thomas Tuchel during the second half, it may indicate trouble ahead for the club’s new owners and more immediately for the club’s new manager.

Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez scores their side's fourth goal of the game from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez scores their side's fourth goal of the game from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Cottage on fire

The situation was certainly not helped by Chelsea’s next defeat at the hands of near neighbour Fulham on Thursday night. Again, it’s never good to lose the club’s derby match, especially so if it is the first time in 17 years.

It might seem insane to be wishing your manager’s career demise after just 19 matches in charge, but when observed in the context, of the previous ownership, Potter would have already been gone about a month by now. Remember, his predecessor Tuchel was fired as manager in September, less than 18 months after winning the Champions League. His only sin? Losing both of last season's FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals, on penalties to Liverpool. Tuchel remained popular with the fans but new owner Todd Boehly gave up on him after a poor start to the season. Which ironically enough, doesn’t look too bad right about now.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland on the bench during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester City's Erling Haaland on the bench during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

So where do Chelsea stand now? Well, the third-round defeat means Chelsea's only hope of silverware this season is in the Champions League and I’m not too sure many Chelsea fans are holding out for that one to come off. They are also 10th in the league, with next season’s Champions League qualification looking impossible now.

There’s no way around it. Potter’s time at the helm has been horrible. Chelsea have had seven defeats in the last 10 games.

Under Potter, Chelsea have played 19 games, won eight, drawn four, lost seven, scored 23, conceded 21, and have had only six clean sheets. Maybe most worrying for a side created to attack, they have scored only four goals in their last eight games.

In Potter’s defence, he is without nine first-team players due to injuries, which would pretty much ruin any title bid no matter the side, with maybe the exception being talent overflow Man City.

Chelsea's Christian Pulisic warms up prior to the Premier League match against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, London. The US international would leave the field later with an injury that will see him out of the game for two months Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire
Chelsea's Christian Pulisic warms up prior to the Premier League match against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, London. The US international would leave the field later with an injury that will see him out of the game for two months Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

Injury list

And the news only got worse this week, when it was confirmed that striker Christian Pulisic will be out for two months, joining Raheem Sterling, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Reece James, and Ben Chilwell on the injured list.

Chelsea and indeed France’s World Cup’s most crucial absentee, N'Golo Kante did his first couple of days training on his own, but he is still a long way from making it back.

And again, it has to be said Chelsea were unlucky against the Cottagers, and were putting up a good fightback when Joao Felix was sent off, on his debut, ending their challenge and seeing Felix now face a three-match ban, just when Potter needs every able-bodied limb playing for his survival.

But bad luck rarely cuts it in management and the reported news this week that former Spurs boss, Mauricio Pochettino would be interested in becoming the Chelsea boss, should the position become available, casts an even bigger shadow over Potter now.

Is that a vote of confidence I hear echoing from the boardroom?

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