Pundit tells Chelsea ‘only one’ name can replace Thomas Tuchel, with Graham Potter ‘going from high school to Oxford Uni’

·3-min read
Mauricio Pochettino, Zinedine Zidane Credit: PA Images
Mauricio Pochettino, Zinedine Zidane Credit: PA Images

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson insists only one man can replace Thomas Tuchel in the Chelsea manager’s hotseat and it’s not Graham Potter.

The Brighton boss is expected to take over at Stamford Bridge, with an agreement said to be in place for Potter to swap the south coast to the capital in a move that’s surprising many.

However, Merson believes the job could be too big for the Englishman. Indeed, he thinks only former Real Madrid chief Zinedine Zidane fulfills every criterion the Blues are seeking.

An announcement on Potter is set to take place over the next 24 hours. However, Merson claims Chelsea are going for the wrong man.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Merson said: “For me, the only one who ticks the box is Zinedine Zidane. He is a legend. Nobody is questioning him. He was one of the best players in the world and he has managed Real Madrid. He has managed top-drawer players.

“He is not a manager who wants to be around for five years and build a project, he just wants it now. He is not going to build a team. He wants a team that is full of superstars already. People will listen to him.

“For me, Zidane fits it. The way they work on the basis of a couple of years.

“You have to remember that Tuchel lost two shootouts last season – not his fault – to a team that were unbelievable. He won the Champions League the year before. Now he is out of work.

Potter not suited to what Chelsea want

“You cannot give it to Graham Potter for five years and tell him to build something. It is not that job. It is a Zinedine Zidane job. He would settle for two years. If he has not won anything by then he would be the first to say he is moving on.

“Brighton have just scored five goals playing lovely football and looking like the Harlem Globetrotters. But I also remember when he was getting booed last year. They were going mad. They could not win a game or score a goal for toffee. It is timing.

“It is all about timing. Who is doing well at the moment? Let’s be honest, if Leicester are second in the league right now then Brendan Rodgers is going to Chelsea. If Rodgers had started this season well rather than Potter then he would have been a no-brainer.

“He has missed out on the Champions League with Leicester twice on the final day of the season, finished eighth and won an FA Cup final. He would have been the biggest shoo-in ever. He has managed at a big club already so he can handle big players.

Massive step up for Potter

Merson admits he is worried about the huge step up Potter will have to take if he agrees to take on the Chelsea role.

He added in his Sky Sports column: “It is an unbelievable opportunity for Potter. It might not come again. But he will be pulling his hair out tonight. I don’t think people realise. He won’t be doing cartwheels because it is such a big decision. I feel sorry for him in a way. It is a hard decision to make.

You are going from one extreme to the other. It is like going from high school and then someone tells you that you are going to Oxford University tomorrow. You would be thinking, ‘I have not worked at that level before, I am not ready for that.’

He has come from Sweden and now he is at Brighton. They lost to Fulham last week which I thought was a shock but you did not hear much about it. Nobody went mad did they? Chelsea get beat at Leeds and it is mayhem. That is the difference.”

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