The last 20 months have been a whirlwind of emotions for supporters of Chelsea Football Club. Most other fan bases would feel disoriented from this constant flux. In one way it is exciting, but still incredibly uneasy. The obsession for Chelsea’s instant success in the moment clouds lots of doubt over their future, especially with new owners that have the luxury of money, but barely any experience in European football.
In American sports, a talented young star signing a six-year contract for his boyhood team would be perfectly normal. However, Chelsea fans raised their eyebrows at seeing this for Reece James, as it crosses the line into the future where predictions become shots in the dark. With the direction Chelsea are going down, nobody can be certain they’ll fare much better. The methods of Todd Boehly in regard to ownership over MLB franchise Los Angeles Dodgers won’t directly translate to success for Chelsea. What works well in baseball cannot function in soccer, as they’re essentially opposite sports.
But his inexperience can be excused. He is still learning the ropes and did have a busy summer, spending well on the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling, Marc Cucurella, and a last-minute swoop for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, what can’t be allowed is the maddening short-sightedness of this decision. Sacking Tuchel over a small cluster of inconsistent results is baffling and points to the fact that Todd Boehly, for whatever reason, was waiting for the right moment to justify letting Tuchel go.
In that sense, Boehly was reasonable to use the morning after a 1-0 upset loss to Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb to boot Tuchel out. The manager who brought Chelsea their second Champions League trophy in history, after being initially brought in to just salvage a 2020-21 season that had gone wrong, and secured top four. Tuchel pulled off a small miracle by not only winning fans over after succeeding a club legend in Frank Lampard, but by deservedly sweeping their opponents aside in every knockout game. It is easy to forget how Chelsea made massive football clubs in Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, and Manchester City look amateur up against Chelsea’s suffocating press. That squad is mostly the same, led by the same head coach. However, at the first bump on the road, Todd Boehly thought it would be logical to sack Tuchel, and we’re only in September.
It is a long season ahead with the World Cup stuffed in the winter schedule, but the new Chelsea owners have only made things harder for themselves. After building up goodwill with the fans during a summer where their ambition was clear, spending around £250 million, any faith in Boehly is surely damaged. Not just because he let go of Tuchel so abruptly, but because there is no clear succession plan. It is not enough to demand explanation for why the sacking was made, as there’s the arguably more pressing matter of who his replacement is.
Former owner Roman Abromavich brought Chelsea to worldwide relevancy as a magnet for trophies, drawing plenty of critics for his tendency to fire off managers at the first sign of struggle. He at least had a succession plan on who to bring in, whereas Boehly brings none of that reassurance. Abromavich ran Chelsea under a mask of chaos, and it worked wonders for almost two decades, but there is no sign of a long-term plan being envisioned now that Tuchel is out of the picture. Brighton manager Graham Potter is reportedly outlined as the frontrunner, and it’s understandable why considering he has the team soaring to new heights, sitting fourth in the Premier League after battering Leicester City, 5-2.
But Potter is not the right for Chelsea.
Potter is a project manager who is linked with a club that wants instantaneous results. What he’s built at Brighton is the result of three hard-working years building up the team to become his. Potter brought in players for low cost who match with his tactics and coaching philosophy. Brighton are seen as the daring and lovable underdogs of the league, and that’s primarily thanks to the eye-catching style they play under Potter, but also because the general notion of witnessing a team exceed expectations, setting records, and playing exciting attacking football is enjoyable. Potter going to Chelsea would negate all of this. The move appears sensible at first glance, but it is a lose-lose scenario for everyone.
Confirmed as new Blues boss on Thursday, Graham Potter now has the expectation of achieving lots of targets very quickly. Top four and competitive cup runs are the minimal expectations for Chelsea this year. Time is rarely given in football, with the elite teams giving no leeway for managers or players when signs of stagnation start to appear. In retrospect, their ninth-place finish is generous, as the Seagulls season didn’t fully reflect the issues Potter has with consistency. At Chelsea, inconsistency is poison for managers.