Graham Potter: Chelsea fans must realise the Roman Abramovich era is over

Graham Potter: Chelsea fans must realise the Roman Abramovich era is over

Graham Potter has hit back at Chelsea’s critics after a run of just one win in eight games, explaining that the club has changed since the Roman Abramovich era.

The Boehly-Clearlake consortium bought the Blues for £2.5billion. but have run into trouble during the transitional period with the club lying in 10th place in the Premier League.

Potter, meanwhile, has faced criticism from pundits, media and supporters after an underwhelming start to life at Stamford Bridge after replacing sacked Champions League-winning manager Thomas Tuchel.

The owners have opted to build their project around Potter’s leadership and are unlikely to consider sacking him anytime soon.

Speaking ahead of the second of two matches against Manchester City in the FA Cup, having lose the first in midweek, Potter tried to explain that his side will stick to their long-term plan, ending a period of hiring and firing under the previous owner.

“There is a completely different ownership than there was,” Potter told reporters. “That is hard for some people to get their head around because for twenty years Chelsea was one thing and now all of a sudden it’s different.

“Yet people still think back to what happened in the past twenty years. That is normal but it is completely different. The reason for me to take the job was the chance to shape a club that is in a massive transitional period. It’s huge.

“Twenty years is a long time to have that leadership and then to change. With that, I knew there were going to be extreme challenges for sure.

“It’s not like I jumped at the first opportunity to leave Brighton, I had other opportunities to leave if I wanted to previously. But this one felt right because of the owners, because of the support I felt they would provide, and that has proved to be the case. They’ve been fantastic.”

Potter met Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali in California while on holiday during the recent mid-season World Cup break. Eghbali is understood to have reiterated his support for Potter and there’s an understanding that the ownership transition has impacted the team.

Graham Potter with Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Graham Potter with Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The club is dealing with expiring contracts, a host of new signings and the implementation of new staff coming in behind the scenes across all levels of the club.

Potter knows that both he and the owners are facing criticism but has faith in their blueprint, adding: “The owners are billionaires so they are quite smart – smarter than me, that’s for sure.

“So they understand the challenges that we have and the direction we want to go in. I’ve been here four months and five or six weeks of that have been lost to international football.

“I think Pep [Guardiola] was [at Manchester City] a year before they won anything, and obviously, Mikel [Arteta] and Jurgen [Klopp] took a bit of time [at Arsenal and Liverpool]. Obviously, it’s maybe different for me, for some reason. I don’t put a timescale on things.

“I know the responsibility we have here but also I know I’m capable and I know the quality that I have. I have the full support of the owners, the players and the staff here and you can see by the support we had [against City], I thought it was fantastic.

I have to come here and represent Chelsea in the best way.

“There will always be people who doubt, there will be people in this room who doubt, but there’s nothing I can really do about that. I’m not here to convince anybody. I’m here to do my work and if that convinces, then fine.”

Potter has handled Chelsea’s recent struggles with dignity and a calm demeanor, in stark contrast to the much-lauded aggressive former captains and managers seen at Stamford Bridge down the years.

The Blues boss insists he shares such traits nut chooses not to express them.

“I hide it well!” Potter said about his emotions. “You see me here and this isn’t actually me all the time. Of course, there are times when I get cross and angry.

“It’s not like I’m some robot and you’re just speaking to this can [of water]. There is stuff that happens but my responsibility when I come to you is to speak as respectfully as I can, even if some of your questions are stupid.

“I’ve got to answer them as best as I can and respectfully as I can because I represent a fantastic football club. I’ve got that job to do regardless of if I’m p****d off after a game.

“I have to come here and represent Chelsea in the best way.”