Chelsea commitment to Graham Potter being tested by dismal performances

Chelsea commitment to Graham Potter being tested by dismal performances

Chelsea's commitment to their smart long-term planning is being tested by dreadful short-term results.

Graham Potter is under growing scrutiny following a poor run of one win in seven games that leaves Chelsea 18 points behind Arsenal and, crucially, seven outside the top four.

Patience is wearing thin among fans and next up is a double-header against Manchester City, at home in the Premier League on Thursday and away in the FA Cup on Sunday.

Potter met Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali in California during the World Cup when he was assured of his long-term future.

Performances, and results, have not been good enough. (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Performances, and results, have not been good enough. (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The pair spoke about plans to continue the rebuilding job at Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window and, after spending £273million in the summer, Chelsea are already close to a £35m deal to make Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile their third signing and Enzo Fernandez is expected to become their fourth.

After Chelsea’s new owners paid Brighton £20m in compensation to hire Potter in September, there is no reason to believe he is in immediate danger of losing his job.

That is despite some valid criticism around a run of form that means Chelsea have their lowest points total at this stage since the 2015-16 season when they finished 10th.

Chelsea targeted, and planned for, a top-four finish as a minimum this season but Champions League qualification is now looking like a tough ask.

The Chelsea fanbase has become used to short-term thinking and winning.

Their 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day was typical of their recent run.

Chelsea did not manage a shot, or even a touch of the ball in the Forest penalty area, during the second half at the City Ground despite finishing with 72 per cent possession.

Potter has admitted he is struggling to embed a fluid, shape-shifting and hard-working philosophy into his squad.

The result has been a misfiring attack that has managed just 20 Premier League goals this season - one fewer than Erling Haaland - is 16th in the division for chance creation.

Long-term building was fine for Potter at Brighton but the Chelsea fanbase has become used to short-term thinking and winning.

That old ideology was also flawed, with Chelsea finishing at least 20 points off Manchester City every season since they last won the title under Antonio Conte in 2017.

Now, the Blues are looking to emulate their rivals from the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea have hired staff from City Football Group, which comprises 11 clubs across four continents, as they look to build their own multi-club model.

Chelsea hope that approach will help them compete with City but the rebuild will take time and, to be fair to Potter, their issues on the pitch are no different to the ones under Thomas Tuchel before he was sacked. Their aging defence looks vulnerable, the midfield is not creating enough chances and the forwards are not scoring enough goals.

The injury setback suffered by Reece James, who faces a month out after he limped off 53 minutes into his comeback against Bournemouth on December 27, has been a major blow.

It has all resulted in a bleak atmosphere around the club right now, even despite their moves in the transfer market.

The overall bigger picture is positive but threatens to be engulfed by an awful season and it is up to Potter and his players to end this downward spiral.