Following last night’s 1-0 defeat, Graham Potter’s winning percentage stands at 36 per cent, the lowest for a Chelsea manager in three decades, since Ian Porterfield and Glenn Hoddle roamed the touchline in the early 90s. That was an acceptable standard then. Now? Not so much.
Potter loves to talk about circumstances and context, but the circumstances and context of 2023 are very different from 1993, both in terms of Chelsea as a club and the Premier League as an institution of the global game.
Since Hoddle left us for the England job in 1996, only two full-time Chelsea managers finished their tenures with a winning percentage under 50 (Ruud Gullit at 49% and André Villas-Boas at 48%). And after Roman Abramovich raised the stakes, the acceptable standard was around 60% — a win-ratio that reflected not only expectations on the pitch, but the club’s ambitions as a whole.
Todd Boehly & Co may want to do (some) things differently, but there isn’t much to gain and possibly a fair bit to lose from letting that standard drop so precipitously.
Told no change in Chelsea board’s position on Graham Potter. They are still backing him.— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) February 18, 2023
For now however, even as fan-pressure continues to rise, almost as a unified voice now, the owners remain fully behind their man. It is perhaps instructive to remember that they sacked Thomas Tuchel not because of results, but because they couldn’t get along with him. Clearly, they’re thick as thieves with ol’ G-Money.
It’s admirable what the new ownership have set out to do. Stability at the managerial position is something we had often pined for in the last twenty years. But that requires the right person as well. The right Ferguson, the right Wenger, the right Guardiola, the right Klopp, the right Hayes. They are outliers. Not everyone can be the right person. And it’s hard to see what they’re seeing in Potter, hard to see what makes them still believe that he is the guy, to be our guy. It may be hard to admit that they’re wrong.
In fairness, Potter’s only had 25 games. It feels longer because of the six-week World Cup break. Even Big Phil Scolari got 36 games, the shortest of any full-time Abramovich appointee. In fact, the shortest tenure for a non-interim manager in Chelsea history is 32 games (Danny Blanchflower in the late 70s, winning 5 of 32).
But can our circumstances and context allow for even that sort of leeway?