Having likened Chelsea's plight in navigating the congested fixture list to the utter futility of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic — right after ensuring maximum workload for the injury-hit squad by not taking an obvious opportunity to rest key players — head coach Graham Potter has also made it known that he could indeed steer us straight into an iceberg and thus truly make himself look like a right old fool.
Thanks, I guess?
If that doesn’t boost confidence like a meaningless 2-1 win against nothing opposition, then I don’t know what will! Take it away, Captain Smith!
“I wouldn’t say I am experimenting. I do have an idea of how I want us to play football.
“I think you have to remember, when you are trying to do something new, there will be a chance it goes wrong. You always have to be prepared for that. That sounds a bit strange because you should come across as this all-knowing person with all the answers, but the reality of making progress and the reality of doing something different and new is ... you have to be prepared to be an idiot.
“If it goes wrong or it fails, you are open to criticism. The flip side of that is that if you don’t do anything and you just do the same stuff then nothing changes. And it is that balance. You have to have the courage to do that and accept the consequences when it doesn’t go your way.”
While I do appreciate the general sentiment of not faking it before you make it, I’m not sure publicly admitting fallibility in such stark terms is the right move for a head coach — especially one coming in without the sort of CV most of his predecessors at Chelsea had boasted.
It’s a fine line, to be sure, and Potter’s not the first nor the last to not pretend he’s a football-god, but in this exact moment, it just sounds weak. Maybe in the future, it won’t.
Now, obviously, Potter is meant to be here for that future, for the long-term. That was the whole point behind his hiring. He’s set to be judged by those whose judgment actually matters — i.e. the Chelsea owners, his bosses — on a longer timeline than our own fickle game-by-game sentiment. Or at least you would hope.
And his results have been generally good (especially in Europe), or at least okay. Key injuries haven’t helped, but nor have a few questionable tactical and personnel decisions. He might say he’s very much in scramble mode when it comes to such things, but some of his decisions and words are closer to what we’d expect from a manager under pressure rather than a manager armed with a long-term plan and staunch unwavering support from the club.
Case in point:
“[Arsenal] identified Mikel [Arteta] and supported him through difficult times. There have been times when he has been under pressure, certainly from the outside. Take the rivalry between Arsenal and Chelsea away and that is quite a good thing from a coach’s perspective to see a club support and back him and come through and they are getting the rewards now.
“[Their success now is] a combination of good work from him, from the staff and recruitment and support. It sounds straightforward but it isn’t. They are there on merit. They have had three years of working with Mikel and building and building.”
-Graham Potter; source: Evening Standard
Again, the sentiment is commendable. But would Chelsea give Potter the same three years Arsenal gave Arteta to get to this point? We know what the previous owner would’ve done, and it’s definitely not that. How Todd Boehly & Co are set to handle such decisions remains unknown.
I would assume they would not take too kindly to a fatal meeting with an iceberg however.