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13 Jan, 2023 13:42

Abramovich ‘would never have hired’ struggling Chelsea manager – pundit

The London club are languishing in tenth place in the Premier League table under new coach Graham Potter
Abramovich ‘would never have hired’ struggling Chelsea manager – pundit

Chelsea’s former owner Roman Abramovich would not have recruited current coach Graham Potter because the Russian billionaire typically turned to “proven winners” to lead the team, according to football pundit Jamie Carragher.

Led by US businessman Todd Boehly, the new ownership at Stamford Bridge opted to sack Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea head coach in September and install unproven Englishman Potter on a five-year deal.

While rated as a progressive tactician and an exciting prospect, the 47-year-old Potter had no experience at a club of the size of Chelsea, having previously worked at Brighton, Swansea, and Ostersunds, as well as stints in women’s football and at university level.

Under Potter, Chelsea have slumped to tenth place in the Premier League and suffered defeat to London rivals Fulham on Thursday night – an eighth loss for the Blues in their last 11 matches in all competitions.

Former Liverpool and England star Carragher said that Potter would never have been hired in the first place by Abramovich – and that he would be surprised if Potter is given more time unless results improve by the end of the season.

“His best chance of surviving is Boehly’s reluctance to undermine his strategy. He won’t want an embarrassing U-turn so soon into his ownership,” wrote Carragher in his Telegraph column on Friday.

“With the utmost respect to Potter – a fine coach whose legacy at Brighton and Hove Albion speaks for itself – he would never have been hired during the Abramovich era, where the remit was to come in and hit the ground running, and once the motor stalled you were out, usually replaced by a proven winner of the world-class caliber of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti or Antonio Conte.”

Disgruntled Chelsea fans have been heard chanting Abramovich’s name in recent games as well as that of former manager Tuchel, who guided them to the 2021 Champions League title after just four months in charge.

The ruthless hire-and-fire culture during Abramovich’s tenure as Chelsea owner between 2003 and 2022 regularly meant that the club was a turbulent place, but nonetheless resulted in a steady stream of additions to the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet.

Abramovich was forced to put Chelsea up for sale last March as UK government sanctions loomed because of the conflict in Ukraine, paving the way for Boehly and his US-based consortium to seal a £4.25 billion ($5.2 billion) deal to buy the Londoners.

Boehly’s arrival led to the departure of prominent figures such as longtime Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia – who was often described as Abramovich’s right-hand woman at the club.   

Despite Boehly and Co. sanctioning a significant outlay on new playing talent during the summer, life in West London has been mired in uncertainty under Chelsea’s new leadership. The team’s current form leaves Chelsea a full ten points adrift of the Champions League places – something surely of financial concern to their new hierarchy.

Chelsea’s misery was summed up on Thursday night against Fulham when big-name new loan signing Joao Felix was sent off in the 58th minute of the match with the score at 1-1, having up to that point enjoyed a promising debut. Fulham went on to capitalize on their one-man advantage with a winning goal through Carlos Vinicius in the 73rd minute.  

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