Boos from Chelsea fans show demands Graham Potter is facing for first time

·3-min read
Boos from Chelsea fans show demands Graham Potter is facing for first time

The smattering of boos from Chelsea fans following the 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg should serve as a warning for Graham Potter.

Of course, the anguish was likely aimed at the Blues players after a bad run saw Thomas Tuchel sacked last week and Potter replace him.

The outcry came after Noah Okafor’s 75th-minute goal cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s second-half strike (right, celebrating), with the Blues unable to take several late chances.

Indeed, it was probably an overreaction from fans, as Potter’s side should have added a second goal after large spells of dominance.

However, this is an emotional fanbase at a big club that has much loftier demands than any at which Potter has worked.

Swedish minnows Ostersunds may never have a better manager than Potter after he earned three promotions and won their first-ever Swedish Cup. Such was his success, they wanted to build a statue of him.

At Swansea and Brighton, he did not have the scrutiny or expectation that he does now.

Now, after signing a five-year contract at Chelsea, Potter wants to build. He knows he has the full backing of the Boehly-Clearlake ownership, who consider him to be ‘their guy’.

“We still understand where we are,” Potter said after last night’s draw. “We understand the demands of this club and I believe in an environment, culture and helping people improve, but we also know we have to win as well and be competitive, so nothing changes in that regard.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“We are at the start of a process with a group of staff and players. I can only comment on the response we’ve had, which has been really good, and I am looking forward to working, making this team competitive and one the supporters are proud of.”

Yet, short-termism remains in the culture of the supporters following the previous Roman Abramovich regime. The Blues won more trophies than any other club in English football during the Russian oligarch’s time in charge through a policy of hiring and firing.

Last night’s 21st-minute tribute to Champions League-winning manager Tuchel is likely to be the last we hear of him at Stamford Bridge.

This is a club that moved on quickly from Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Carlo Ancelotti.

The fans’ focus will now be on whether Potter’s overachievements can translate to a winning formula at their club, where losing is not an option. Chelsea produced their most free-flowing, attacking performance of the season so far, with Mason Mount returning to form.

The data showed that Chelsea were unlucky to draw, after substitutes Hakim Ziyech and Armando Broja squandered big chances late on.

Potter’s side outperformed their Group E rivals by every attacking metric except shot accuracy, so the new boss has something to grasp onto.

Ultimately, the reality is that Chelsea are bottom of the group and need to win three of their last four games — with a double-header against AC Milan to come.

“We can’t lie, it’s not the position we want to be in but we have to respond, it’s as simple as that,” Potter added.

“It’s going to be a tough group but there is enough quality in the team and squad that we can respond and we have to look forward to those games.”

They are also up against it in the Premier League, with Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal all improving this season alongside the general threats of Manchester City and Liverpool.

The boos were unfair to the players, who have the majority of the season to go and play for.

Unfortunately, once the shine of the new era wears off, Potter will be facing the cold demands of top-level football.

This is the reality of what he signed up for and he has to show he can deliver wins and eventually the titles that they demand.