Graham Potter ‘accepts criticism’ in final interview as Chelsea head coach

Chelsea are set to begin an “exhaustive search” for a new manager after Graham Potter was sacked less than seven months into the job on Sunday night.

Potter was dismissed following Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa, a result which left the Blues in the bottom half of the Premier League table. The decision was made by co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, and with the full support of co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, but is said to have left members of the Chelsea squad “stunned”.

Chelsea’s new ownership believe sacking Potter, who they recruited from Brighton for £21m after getting rid of Thomas Tuchel earlier this season, gives the team a better chance of defeating Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League this month. Potter’s assistant, Bruno Saltor, will now take interim charge ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Liverpool, while a permanent appointment is not said to be “imminent”.

Julian Nagelsmann is believed to be in contention for the job with Chelsea prepared to give the 35-year-old time for a rest after he was sacked by Bayern Munich, while former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is said to be “open” to the role. Brighton’s Roberto de Zerbi and Luis Enrique are among the other contenders. Follow live updates from Chelsea’s managerial search and the latest reaction to Potter’s sacking in our live blog below.


Saltor on Potter

Bruno Saltor spoke about his former boss, Graham Potter, at the start of this press conference and said: “Obviously it’s been a difficult 24 hours for all of us, for the staff, for the families and now we have to live with the situation.

“If I’m here right now it’s because Graham and the club thought it was the right step. I’m just here to help the club in the best way I can.

“I’m here right now, trying to keep the process going. We try to go along with it the best we can. I think Graham did an amazing job. Football is a really complex business and we have to keep going.

“I couldn’t see the players yet. We have an afternoon session planned. At the end of the day all of us are responsible, we have to focus on tomorrow’s game and that’s the energy we’re working on.”

Mike Jones3 April 2023 17:20


Anything but magic… Why Chelsea sacked Graham Potter and what comes next

There was of course one predictable line that summed up one of the main problems for Graham Potter, amid a story that a number of football figures considered inevitable. Many of the players of course had names for the manager based on his wizard namesake, and there were repeated references to Quidditch. If that would indeed be predictable even if things were going well, the issue was that they were said with a bit of bite when things were going badly – which was often.

It reflects how a core of this expanded squad just never took Potter as seriously as they should a Chelsea manager. Some had to look up his career, and certain transfer targets didn’t know that much about him. That perhaps isn’t such a surprise in a young dressing room as international as this. It did play its part in ensuring Potter was fighting a losing battle from the very start, which meant the 47-year-old didn’t win enough games to justify staying in the job.

All of the appeals to emotional intelligence and what was genuinely good technical coaching that players enjoyed couldn’t overcome key realities of football. That is a manager has to have command over a squad, even one as bloated as this.

Mike Jones3 April 2023 17:10


Chelsea statement after sacking Potter

Chelsea’s statement read:

“Chelsea FC has announced that Graham Potter has departed the club. Graham has agreed to collaborate with the club to facilitate a smooth transition. In his time with the club, Graham has taken us to the quarter final of the Champions League, where we will face Real Madrid. Chelsea would like to thank Graham for all his efforts and contribution and wish him well for the future.”

Chelsea’s co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali also released a statement, saying:

“On behalf of everyone at the club, we want to thank Graham sincerely for his contribution to Chelsea. We have the highest degree of respect for Graham as a coach and as a person. He has always conducted himself with professionalism and integrity and we are all disappointed in this outcome.

“Along with our incredible fans, we will all be getting behind Bruno and the team as we focus on the rest of the season. We have 10 Premier League games remaining and a Champions League quarter-final ahead. We will put every effort and commitment into every one of those games so that we can end the season on a high.”

Mike Jones3 April 2023 17:00


What next for Graham Potter and Brendan Rodgers?

Potter was sacked by the Blues on Sunday following only seven wins from 22 Premier League games, while Rodgers departed the relegation-threatened Foxes earlier that day.

Here, the PA news agency considers what could be next for the pair:

Mike Jones3 April 2023 16:50


Klopp on record number of Premier League sackings this season

“It’s an awful number. But it is how it is.” said Jurgen Klopp when told that the 12 managers to be fired from Premier League clubs this season was a record number.

The Liverpool boss added: “Some clubs are underachieving this year. Especially when in relegation battles, we all know how much it means financially for clubs.

“You could say similar things about being in the Champions League or not being in the Champions League. Expectations are out there and rightly so, and if you don’t reach them you have to accept their decisions.”

Mike Jones3 April 2023 16:40


Klopp on departures of Rodgers and Potter

Speaking about the sackings of Brendan Rodgers and Graham Potter, Klopp added: “What can I say about that?

“I think both clubs are not in spots where they expected to be. I can’t say a lot about it. I know them well and I like both of them. They’re really good people, fantastic managers both of them, but still things can go the wrong way.

“Decision makers think things have to change and we all accept that’s part of the business. And that’s it. It’s been a strange week. [Antonio] Conte last week, [Julian] Nagelsmann and now these two.

“The season gets into a decisive part and people are afraid maybe of not reaching their targets. You have the opportunity to ask decisive people what they say about it.

“For all four, their football managing future is still bright. Not a disaster but a situation they probably don’t like, but it’s part of the business.”

Mike Jones3 April 2023 16:30


Roberto De Zerbi: Too much emphasis placed on coaches when results go wrong

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi believes Chelsea’s players must take some responsibility for the sacking of Graham Potter and feels too much focus is placed on the influence of managers.

Potter left Albion to take over at Stamford Bridge on a five-year contract in September but was sacked on Sunday following seven wins from 22 Premier League games.

Italian De Zerbi filled the vacancy at the Amex Stadium and has the high-flying Seagulls challenging for Europe going into the final quarter of the campaign.

Potter’s dismissal came just hours after Brendan Rodgers left Leicester and took the number of top-flight managerial departures this term to 13.

Mike Jones3 April 2023 16:20


Bruno Saltor vows to do his best for Chelsea after ‘sad’ Graham Potter sacking

Chelsea interim boss Bruno Saltor expressed his sadness at the departure of Graham Potter, but promised to do his best for Tuesday’s visit of Liverpool.

Potter was sacked on Sunday night after the Blues dropped to 11th in the Premier League following a 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

The decision to remove Potter was taken by Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart with the unanimous backing of Todd Boehly and co-owner Behdad Eghbali, the PA news agency understands.

Billy Reid has joined Potter in leaving, but ex-Brighton full-back Bruno has remained in post alongside Bjorn Hamberg, goalkeeper coach Ben Roberts and recruitment specialist Kyle Macaulay.

Mike Jones3 April 2023 16:10


Why was Potter sacked?

Graham Potter was appointed Chelsea manager in September to take over from Champions League-winning boss Thomas Tuchel, whose relationship with the owners soured after a difficult pre-season tour to the United States.

Senior players later admitted it was the worst pre-season they had experienced.

The club then paid £21.5m in compensation to Brighton in order to release Potter and his backroom staff – a record fee paid by an English club for a manager and second only to the figure stumped up by Bayern Munich in 2021 for Julian Nagelsmann.

There was a belief that Potter could get the best out of the players and that he was a suitable long-term appointment to brig sustained success to Stamford Bridge.

The owners then splashed the cash to bring in a host of expensive signings leaving Chelsea with the largest squad in the Premier League by the end of January.

Recent good performances of Benoit Badiashile, Joao Felix and record-buy Enzo Fernandez suggested their faith in Potter might be the correct decision but those performances didn’t translate into results.

However, Chelsea’s drop into the bottom half as well as their struggles in front of goal that has led to Stamford Bridge being the top-flight ground with the lowest number of goals seen this season.

That sort of form and lack of excitement made his position untenable and the owners let him go on Sunday night.

Mike Jones3 April 2023 16:00


Chelsea look at Pochettino, Spalletti and Enrique

The Telegraph report that Chelsea will try to interview at least five candidates to replace Graham Potter, with the club likely to hold talks with Mauricio Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Luciano Spalletti.

The report claims the Chelsea job is guarenteed to be offered to former Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann though he is the frontrunner to succeed Potter.

Sky Sports in Germany say it is 50/50 as to whether Nagelsmann would be prepared to move quickly to secure the job at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are keen to interview Pochettino and Enrique, both of whom are out of work, while Napoli’s Spalletti is on the radar after his success with the Italian side who are on course to win Serie A and are into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Mike Jones3 April 2023 15:50

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