Chelsea Q&A: Nizaar Kinsella on Graham Potter, Thomas Tuchel, Todd Boehly and more

·9-min read
Chelsea Q&A: Nizaar Kinsella on Graham Potter, Thomas Tuchel, Todd Boehly and more

Welcome to the Evening Standard’s LIVE Q&A with Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella.

Graham Potter is on the verge of being appointed as the new Chelsea head coach after agreeing to take over at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have moved quickly to appoint Brighton manager Potter after sacking Thomas Tuchel and there is plenty to discuss.

Chelsea’s owners believe Potter is the man to lead the new era in west London but what can fans expect from the 47-year-old?

What tactics will Potter employ? What are his biggest challenges? Can he handle the big-name players in the Chelsea dressing room?

Why was the decision to sack Tuchel taken now, a week after the closure of the transfer window during which they spent almost £300million? Did a row over Cristiano Ronaldo lead to the departure of Tuchel and what does his exit mean for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

With so much to discuss, Nizaar is on hand to answer your questions on all things Chelsea.

Follow our Chelsea LIVE Q&A with Nizaar below...

15:26 , Alex Young

That’s all, folks!

Thanks for submitting your questions, if Nizaar didn’t get to yours then there will be plenty of further opportunities down the road.

Until next time, ta-rah!

15:19 , Alex Young

Why hasn’t the club replaced Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia? Does it have anything to do with Tuchel’s departure ?

Roman Abramovich had a very unusual structure for a major club with Granovskaia and Petr Cech. It worked for them but wasn't a typical structure you may see at Liverpool or Manchester City with a traditional sporting director model.

Chelsea will move towards a more structured approach with an experienced sporting director, expected to be ex-Liverpool chief Michael Edwards.

They then can appoint their own support staff with roles massively needing filling on recruitment after Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali ran the summer transfer business.

The delay has come because Edwards has wanted a break from football and alternatives could be picked up if he doesn't join.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

15:09 , Alex Young

Is Todd Bohely's strategy of being hands-on going to be a problem for Potter?

I know a lot of supporters are unhappy at the new owners’ decision and blame them for Tuchel's removal.

I have more sympathy having heard of discontent, particularly on the player's side, for some time.

Boehly was open to seeing his request to sign Ronaldo turned down and did provide Tuchel with great resources.

I feel like managing up is a challenge in any job and I don't see the Boehly-Clearlake regime as a problem at this early stage.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

14:50 , Alex Young

What will be the biggest challenge for Potter at Chelsea?

Chelsea remain a massive unknown in general and I feel that the scrutiny around the club will be the foremost challenge.

It is incomparable to his role at Brighton, which although big, is by no means on the same scale as Stamford Bridge.

I believe Potter will be confident that his training methods will improve players and get results, but can he handle everything else that comes with it?

Those aspects negatively impacted Tuchel by the end.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

14:42 , Alex Young

What next for Thomas Tuchel?

It is way too early to predict where Thomas Tuchel will end up and he typically likes a break following a job.

Chelsea fought hard to get him in so soon after his Paris Saint-Germain sacking in December 2020.

However, the whole of Europe knows what Tuchel is about and he has a powerful agent so expect to see him in a rival dugout soon.

Manchester United and Barcelona tried for him in the past. Tottenham have been linked in the past. Smaller Premier League clubs tried before he joined PSG too.

14:29 , Alex Young

Why has Zinedine Zidane never been considered by Chelsea? Did the club ever approach him?

Zidane seems reluctant to work in the English game due to his limited English language speaking ability.

Chelsea weren't ever going to push for a coach who himself feels ill-suited to the role.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

14:22 , Alex Young

Are there not fears of bringing Potter in "for the long-term" but losing him to the England job if the World Cup does not go as planned?

You're right that Graham Potter will be here to build for the longer term and will sign a five-year deal.

Chelsea's owners rightly believe they'll need a longer-term appointment to really challenge the dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool, building a great team over many years as both those clubs have done under both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Indeed, they are hiring much staff from both City and Liverpool to run the background operation.

Plugging Potter into that is the plan to win a first Premier League title in six seasons.

Is England a threat to this build? No. Potter is keen to work in the busy day-to-day world of club management for now.

14:16 , Alex Young

Over the years English managers have not been able to steer teams to glory in the Premier League. What is Potter’s potential of being an exception with Chelsea?

There has certainly been a fair suspicion or concern in that past that English coaches weren't as talented as their overseas peers.

That saw an influx of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and German coaches into the Premier League.

However, I think that has changed after a concerted effort within the Football Association (FA) and clubs to produce coaches as well as players.

Chelsea alone have been excellent at producing coaches so I think an English coach will soon win the Premier League.

Maybe it will be Graham Potter.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

14:09 , Alex Young

What do the players have to say? Why do they appear to play with no determination and look unfit? How about the stadium expansion?

Chelsea's players had a lot of respect for Tuchel, as you could see from almost the entire squad posting a tribute to the departed manager. Many of those who didn't will have messaged him privately.

While they are grateful to Tuchel, most are also not as surprised as many supporters over his dismissal.

They've seen members of the squad act out or feel mistreated, and players also talk. They know that many were not happy under the manager and we could all see which players underperformed.

Beyond a lack of drive and fitness, the body language has also been terrible this season, particularly in the 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

Some may argue that the pre-season tour in the United States negatively impacted the player's fitness, with temperatures too high to train well. However, they had a good few weeks in London so I doubt that's a reasonable excuse.

The stadium expansion is seen as a mid-term project and plans are being drawn up. The development plans are being led by board member Jonathan Goldstein who is often by the side of Todd Boehly and Behdad Egbahli.

There's an architect in place but, in the meantime, they are looking at small improvements to the current Stamford Bridge which many fans have already seen.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

14:01 , Alex Young

What is Potter's playing style and tactics? Do you think he’s going to be fit for Chelsea with the squad they have?

Graham Potter's style of play is similar in many respects to Thomas Tuchel's; he favours possession football, solidity and energetic pressing.

Similarly to Tuchel, he likes versatile players and moves his stars out of position when required.

The 47-year-old is a highly reactive in-game manager and will often tweak his approach while watching his team respond to opposition threats and weaknesses.

He doesn't really have a set formation but has recently been using wing-backs in a similar style to Tuchel's preferred shape.

13:55 , Alex Young

Do you think Graham Potter can handle big egos in the Chelsea dressing room?

There's no doubting his achievements at Ostersund and Brighton, with even his short spell at Swansea City being a success.

Yet, none of those experiences will be like the one he is about to embark upon at Chelsea.

There will be higher-paid players, big transfer fees spent and more ruthless characters who have fought hard to reach the very highest level of the game.

It will be a new challenge but it would be wrong to assume Chelsea's squad are particularly egotistical.

This is a big squad and Tuchel struggled to keep the fringe players happy in the end. That's a big part of Potter's challenge in the coming months.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

13:46 , Alex Young

What actually made Tuchel and Chelsea part ways? Was it because of Cristiano Ronaldo or because he has lost so many matches this season?

It wasn't because of Cristiano Ronaldo but Thomas Tuchel did several times knock back the board's suggestion that Chelsea sign the Manchester United forward.

It would have been a simple deal to do, with Jorge Mendes leading the charge after a meeting with Todd Boehly and academy director Neil Bath in Portugal.

Generally, there was a bit of a disconnect between board and manager over transfers. Due in part to a lack of quality communication and a difficult working relationship than the names who came in.

Tuchel was being honest when he said he was really happy with the club's transfer window after deadline day, having seen the club spend £173million on 10 big new signings.

The end result was fine but the process was fraught all along the way.

I will give more insight on why Tuchel parted ways in answer to the other questions.

 (Manchester United via Getty Images)
(Manchester United via Getty Images)

13:42 , Alex Young

Nizaar is ready and raring to go. First up, a question about the reasons behind Tuchel’s sacking and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Welcome!

13:25 , Alex Young

Well, it’s been a busy time of late at Chelsea. Hundreds of millions spent, panic purchases on deadline day, one big defeat, one manager sacked and a new one on the way.

To run through everything before, during and after the decision to dismiss Thomas Tuchel, is Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella.

He will be answering your questions shortly. Stick with us.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)