After Chelsea’s latest defeat, Graham Potter took the fairly extraordinary step of using the example of a rival to illustrate what happens if people just keep faith with under-fire managers. While it’s common for pundits, observers, fans to point to various examples of such successes, as if their historic results would have any bearing whatsoever on our current predicament, managers themselves don’t usually do that, certainly not in public, in press conferences.
But these are unprecedented times, so here was Potter talking about Arsenal and Liverpool keeping faith in Mikel Arteta and Jürgen Klopp, respectively, even as the unwashed masses, the plebs wanted them gone.
“Two years into Mikel’s reign, he’s close to getting the sack and people are wanting him out and it’s a disaster. Obviously now things have changed a little bit but that’s just the way it is.
“If you look at Jürgen [Klopp]’s situation, they [Liverpool] haven’t got the results and all of a sudden people want him out. That’s just the nature of football.”
-Graham Potter; source: Sky
Obviously, that’s nonsense — and comparisons with Pep Guardiola are even more laughable.
While Wannabe Arteta is specifically referencing the start of Actual Arteta’s third season at Arsenal (the one in the All or Nothing documentary), all these managers had better records through their first 26 games at their club, with more wins, more goals, more progress in various competitions. Arteta and Klopp also took over teams in much worse situation than Chelsea, coming off of worse results and seasons, with far less incoming investment in the playing squad, and so on.
Graham Potter believes his current record is similar to that of Mikel Arteta in his first season at Arsenal and, because Arteta's doing well some years later, he should be given more time too.— Sid Celery (@sidcelery) February 28, 2023
He can believe what he likes, but it isn't even true. pic.twitter.com/6zz2dkxoHF
But even if we indulge Potter’s fantasies, the reality of those others’ situations was that even they had to actually win a few games.
Here’s Arteta himself to remind of the cold hard facts. (And he himself had plenty of credit in the bank by then, with some success and progress already shown the previous two seasons at the club.)
“With me [Arsenal] were really supportive. But at the end you have to win football matches because you know that if the run continues that it is unsustainable.
“I knew I had to win against Norwich and win against Burnley, and then everything helps and the environment starts to get better, everybody is more confident and you can keep going. We depend on results, unfortunately.”
-Mikel Arteta; source: Metro
Potter’s Norwich and Burnley are, reportedly, our upcoming games against Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund. Two games to save his job, which, if true, evidently means that he’s frittered away almost all of the ownership’s nearly endless backing at this point. Impressive!
Obviously, on some level, some sympathy could be felt for Potter. I’m sure we’ve all taken on jobs that proved beyond our capabilities. And no one likes to see failure at or with Chelsea; we all want what’s best for the club at the end of the day, and we all want to see everyone involved with the club succeed.
But unless some miracle turnaround happens, the Potter experiment will go down in club history as a greatest blunder.
Should that happen, hopefully Potter will be able to keep his professional life a bit more separate from his private life, and not be like he’s mentioned before about suppressing his emotions in public and showing them in private and affecting those around him in turn.
Arteta’s got some good advice in this instance, too. Words to live by.
“We all know the pressure, the demands and the uncertainty that this industry has. You can have difficulties in your job and challenges, which we do, especially when you lose, but when you are winning as well because this job is so demanding.
“But you cannot destroy your life because of that. [...] Your family, your friends, your loved ones, the people around you, don’t deserve to have their lives affected in such a negative way because you don’t win a football match.”
“So that balance I think in my case was critical, but you need some help, someone to paint that picture in front of you because sometimes when you are in that position it is not easy to see.”
-Mikel Arteta; source: BBC
In an isolated system, the entropy can only increase.