Graham Potter pleads for Chelsea unity against Crystal Palace in battle to save job


Graham Potter has called on Chelsea fans to get behind the side for the derby against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Sunday after the Blues were booed off at Craven Cottage.

Potter is fighting to save his job after the 2-1 defeat to Fulham on Thursday night made it the club’s worst Premier League run for 26 years.

The boos at the end of the game were a clear indication of the mood among Chelsea fans, with the rancour worsening with each result, and Potter has appealed to supporters to get behind the team as he bids to stop the slide.

Potter has seen his side win just once in nine games, stuck in 10th place and 10 points off fourth-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand.

The owners have remained supportive of a manager they brought in for the long-term, but will have to decide if they can stand by him if results don’t improve soon.

Fighting for his job: Graham Potter is already battling to stay at Chelsea after a woeful run (PA)
Fighting for his job: Graham Potter is already battling to stay at Chelsea after a woeful run (PA)

Unlike most of his squad, Potter went over to applaud the travelling support at the end of the game against Fulham and wants to battle on to turn around the season.

“We have to recover. We have to recover from the disappointment of the game,” said Potter, who is urging unity between the supporters and players to help overcome their rapid decline.

“It’s not easy. We’re suffering and they are suffering. So we feel for them and feel their disappointment. I went over and clapped them because you appreciate the support.

“I think it’s important we stick together and try to get through this tough period because it really is a tough period. We have to assess all the players in terms of recovery and the injuries that we have.

“Then we have to be positive, move forward and take a home game on - another London derby against a dangerous group of players - prepare ourselves and be the better team.”

Loan signing Joao Felix made his debut against Fulham and performed well before being sent off for a reckless tackle in the 59th minute with the game locked at 1-1. Fulham regained control and striker Carlos Vinicius scored to win his side’s first derby since 2006.

Felix’s three-match suspension means that he will miss Chelsea’s crucial match against Palace. Potter is in dire need of a win but admits that Felix’s ban will add to the challenge with 10 other players out.

“We’re disappointed because he came here to play,” Potter added about his loan signing from Atletico Madrid. “You saw his quality when he was on the pitch. To lose him for three games is a real blow for us but there’s nothing we can do now. We just have to deal with it.”

Denis Zakaria is also likely to be out against Palace after coming off with a quad issue on Thursday. Chelsea have faced an injury crisis for more than two months and Potter explained how the Boehly-Clearlake regime are reviewing their medical practices.

“We are looking at it all the time,” he revealed. “We’re going over how they are happening and trying to evaluate the whole thing. At the halfway mark of the season, it is not always easy to know how things happened.

“At the same time, there’s a bit of bad luck and also learning for us all in terms of how to go forward and improve. It’s the nature of them that’s not even a pattern.

“They are all different problems. It’s tricky. It’s not like we are overtraining but it is something we need to get to the bottom of.”