After a long wait, over three weeks, the first Premier League match of Graham Potter’s (hopefully long and successful) tenure as Chelsea head coach is almost here. Potter did take charge for our 1-1 draw against RB Salzburg before the international break, but this weekend feels like the true beginning of his new era.
Unfortunately, in terms of key injuries, it’s still the same as the old era, with neither N’Golo Kanté nor Édouard Mendy quite ready to play. To add to that, Marc Cucurella and Carney Chukwuemeka are doubtful as well.
“No they’re not [available]. They’re absolutely fine in terms of coming through their rehab stages. NG has just been on the grass with the team but not full training,. Eddie is a bit further on but hasn’t had enough to be involved at the weekend really. Maybe next week for him
“A bit of illness for Marc Cucurella and Carney, apart from that everybody is fit.”
While Potter hasn’t quite had as much time to work with the squad as this lengthy break would indicate at first sight — most of the squad have been away on international duty, and the rest were given time off — he did use this time to get settled in and get a bit more comfortable with his new environment.
That said, he’s now itching to play, and so are we. Time to scratch that itch!
“[We] used the time to get to know people in an environment without games but at the same time we’re itching to go, itching to play. That’s really where you find out about everything and you learn a lot and make an impression.
“Couldn’t really control anything in terms of how things have panned out with the cancellations. International break is what it is, then we just have to make the most of it. [...] We’re looking forward to that challenge, but the boys are ready and itching to play. Can’t wait.”
“We have to be smart with how we work, smart with how we use our time. [...] I‘ve been really positively happy with how everyone has welcomed me, the feeling I’ve got at Cobham, the training ground, the players have been amazing, very open, very honest, there’s a really good group here with good experienced players and nice young ones who are also ambitious. Good group, good mix, it’s just been really surreal because we haven’t had games and went into an international break. Looking forward to getting going tomorrow.”
Ideally, this is the start of something great and beautiful and long-term, but we all know the harsh realities of this business. Potter himself may not have ever managed a “top” team before, but he’s not blind to them either. His approach may not be as coldly analytical as Tuchel’s was this time 19 months ago, but he’s about as realistic as his predecessor when it comes down to it.
“We’ve got six weeks, 13 matches and quickly it’s understanding all the players and using them in the right way. Winning football matches in the toughest league in the world with Champions League as well. That’s going to be the challenge in the short term.”
“[Then] the challenge, a bit more than short term challenge, it’s how you align the resources you have, how you align the football idea with everything you’ve got and make it successful. The past, or resource or history doesn’t guarantee you anything in this league. There are lots of clubs that have spent lots of money and haven’t achieved things that they maybe wanted. It’s about getting everything lined up and strategy clear.
“Vital sounds a bit life or death, or dramatic, it is what it is. I can’t control people’s perception of what we do or not, rather than worry about what we’re going to do in May or June, I’m just focused on the next match and the next training session, trying to improve the team.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
It’s not been an easy or straightforward start to the season, and Chelsea are still undergoing massive changes, especially behind the scenes. But hopefully we can focus on our football for a minute, and put a good run of results together over the next month and a half ... and beyond.