Graham Potter
Chelsea's head coach Graham Potter, follows the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, April 1, 2023. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

Chelsea Dismiss Head Coach Graham Potter

Chelsea FC dismissed head coach Graham Potter on Sunday following a string of poor results that saw the club slip to 11th place in the Premier League.

“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,” said the club in their statement.

“Co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said: ‘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.”

The decision was reportedly very sudden and smooth, with players not being notified of the decision until afterward. Chelsea sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart broke the news to Potter in a “short and sharp” phone call.

In a corresponding move, the Premier League club announced that Potter staff member Bruno Salter will take charge as interim manager. Salter is tasked with keeping the ship afloat until Chelsea can find a new manager. His managerial debut comes Tuesday against Liverpool.

Potter lasted just short of six months in charge of Chelsea after being hired in September. The club paid £21.5 million to Brighton to land the manager, then signing the Englishman to a five-year, £50 million contract. The club owes Potter a significant chunk of money, although he “agreed to collaborate with the Club to facilitate a smooth transition”.

Why Chelsea Fired Potter

Chelsea hired Potter in September after continued disagreement between owner Todd Boehly and then-manager Thomas Tuchel. Potter was previously Brighton’s longtime manager and had the club continually punching above its weight in the Premier League.

The English manager wasn’t able to replicate this success with Chelsea. The club captured just 28 points from 22 matches, on par with a lower-level club like Southampton, who embarrassed the London club in February. Potter’s Chelsea slipped to eleventh in the Premier League following Saturday’s loss to Aston Villa.

Per the Telegraph’s Matt Law, Potter also slowly lost the locker room during his Chelsea tenure. Some of the manager’s choices, like the continued decision to start struggling players like Mykhailo Mudryk while benching veterans like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, generated anger throughout the Chelsea squad. Even players that liked Potter thought he was “out of his depth.”

Overall, both ownership and the locker room gradually grew frustrated with Potter. The club felt he was in over his head, and given the amount of money put into the squad it was detrimental to keep a manager that couldn’t produce results.

New candidates are already on the table for Chelsea as well, with several top choices available. The Premier League club considers former Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann their top choice. Nagelsmann led a talented Bayern Munich squad to the Champions League quarterfinals and first place in Bundesliga before being let go by the German side.

Luis Enrique and Mauricio Pochettino are also reportedly in the mix for the position. Enrique is the former manager of Barcelona, where he led the Spanish side to the Champions League and La Liga crowns in 2015. Pochettino has managed both Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

About Connor O'Bryan

Connor O'Bryan is a world soccer reporter for ESPN Gainesville. He also sometimes covers baseball and other sports. He has previously written for WUFT Gainesville and for Atrium Magazine. Connor also cohosts the "Off The Bar Podcast", a student driven podcast that focuses on the global soccer landscape.

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