By Rachel Steinberg, PA
Graham Potter admitted Chelsea’s poor run of form before the World Cup could have derailed his US holiday, but believes he has more support than ever from the club’s owners.
The Blues boss and wife Rachel escaped to the California coast during the Premier League break, the first time the pair had ever got away without their children.
Thousands of miles away from Stamford Bridge, Potter still found himself mulling over his eighth-placed side’s three straight losses before the World Cup kicked off in Qatar.
He said: “I would rather have gone on holiday with a couple of wins behind me, because I probably would have been better company for my poor wife. As it was, I’m staring into the Pacific Ocean, and she’s thinking about what a wonderful time we’re having, and I’m thinking about Chelsea Football Club.
“But thankfully she’s been with me long enough to know that that’s how it is, and then you have to use the pain, the frustration, the disappointment of the last few weeks to say, OK, how can we go forward?
“And then, like anything, a bit of distance gives you that time, a bit of perspective, and then it’s about how you can start the process of integrating all the players back and taking the learning of that time and saying OK, we need to show some direction here.”
Chelsea have picked up just two points from their last five league games, but the 47-year-old former Brighton boss believes he still has the full backing of Todd Boehly and his ownership consortium, who took over the club for a reported £4.25bn in May.
Potter, who was appointed in September, said: “[I have] fantastic support. I’m really looking forward to the weeks and the months and the years ahead. We understand where we’re at at the moment and we understand the challenges ahead but that’s where we are in the journey at the moment.
“I’m even more confident, even more aware of the support I have now than I was three months ago when I took the job. So that tells you something. It’s a credit to them and their support and how they have communicated with me – it’s been fantastic. We all know the pressure and the demands at this club but we have also got enough people who can see the perspective and where we are at to be able to say, ‘this is where we are, how can we improve?’”
Chelsea return to action on Tuesday, hosting Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge before travelling to Nottingham Forest on January 1, with New Year’s Day also marking the opening of Potter’s first transfer window with the Blues.
He refused to entertain speculation that keeper Edouard Mendy had rejected a six-year offer over wages, insisting “I think that’s between [him] and the club, and he’s been absolutely top with us, with me.”
Soon back to it! 👊 pic.twitter.com/wXs6KGY95U
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 21, 2022
Potter will surely look back on the season so far as he considers any deals, but he emphasised the tumultuous first half – which saw two Chelsea matches postponed as a result of the Queen’s death, a winter World Cup, plus the parting of ways with his predecessor Thomas Tuchel – was an especially unusual period for assessing his side’s overall performance and potential.
He added: “What I would say is that historically the January window isn’t so straightforward to find solutions. From my perspective, there was an extreme period and I would not want to make too many drastic assessments based on that extreme period.
“I think the team, as I see it, has not functioned as maximally as I would like it to and I think it can do. The job of a head coach is to focus on the ones that are here and make them better. There is room for improvement there, for sure.”