Marc Cucurella turnaround symbolises Chelsea resurgence after Graham Potter masterstroke

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Marc Cucurella is healing a fraught relationship with Chelsea fans with the help of some masterful man-management from Graham Potter.

The 24-year-old again excelled in Saturday’s 3-1 win against Leicester, and celebrated at the King Power Stadium by throwing his shirt into the away end.

Cucurella made the most tackles and interceptions, won the most duels and had the highest passing accuracy of all starting players, as Chelsea continued their upturn in form.

Playing on the left of a three-man defence, he also stopped Foxes striker Kelechi Iheanacho from dropping deep to create chances, while linking well with wing-back Ben Chilwell.

The impressive display followed his man-of-the-match performance in last week’s 2-0 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund.

Timely turnaround: Marc Cucurella’s return to form has mirrored that of Chelsea under Graham Potter (Getty Images)
Timely turnaround: Marc Cucurella’s return to form has mirrored that of Chelsea under Graham Potter (Getty Images)

A first away win in eight Premier League matches further eased the pressure on Potter and his players, despite Chelsea remaining 10th in the table. Cucurella’s improving fortunes symbolise an overall uplift in mood.

A month ago, Cucurella was booed off by his own fans at West Ham after being substituted following a poor display. Four days later, he was booed onto the pitch as a substitute by the same supporters away at Dortmund.

The £62million summer signing was a symbol of the poor run of form that pushed Potter to the brink of being sacked last month. Having played under Potter at Brighton last season, Cucurella was unpopular through his association with the manager.

He also suffered a series of off-field setbacks. His home was burgled shortly after he joined Chelsea. The incident was described as “traumatic” for the player and his pregnant wife, who has since given birth to a baby girl.

A severe case of tonsillitis in October left Cucurella hospitalised and saw him lose 4kg in weight. A series of poor displays followed his return to the team in mid-October, notably when he was substituted in the 36th minute at home to Manchester United. He also missed out on a place in the Spain squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

“We are humans,” said Cucurella at the weekend, after Chelsea secured a third successive win for the first time since October. “Maybe we have some problems in our personal lives. This is part of life, and sometimes people need to understand this.”

Cucurella was again poor after the World Cup, but Potter continued to boost his ego by highlighting how Pep Guardiola and Manchester City wanted him before he joined Chelsea.

Potter has shown how his empathetic management style can help his players in tough times. After leaving Cucurella out of his matchday squad for three consecutive matches, he now says the defender “epitomises” what he wants from his bloated 32-man squad.

He sees Cucurella as a good example of how to deal with being dropped, overcoming setbacks and proving doubters wrong. Cucurella is justifying the faith shown in him by Potter and is now producing his best form since arriving at Chelsea last summer.