Potter would face Chelsea sack ‘if Abramovich was still owner’

Graham Potter on how the World Cup break can change fortunes

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Glenn Hoddle has told Graham Potter he would face the sack as Chelsea head coach if he failed to guide the club into the top four this season and Roman Abramovich was still owner of the club. Doubts have been raised about whether Potter is experienced enough to handle the job after overseeing some mixed results since taking charge in September.

Potter was hired as successor to Thomas Tuchel on a five-year contract after the German was brutally axed by co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali on September 7. American billionaire Boehly brought in the Brighton coach along with his backroom team and even hired recruitment analysts to accompany him at Stamford Bridge as part of a new era in west London.

The 47-year-old enjoyed a fine start to his career at Stamford Bridge, going unbeaten in his first 10 matches in all competitions. But a spate of injuries contributed to a run of three straight defeats in the Premier League – the worst run of any Chelsea boss since 2002 when Claudio Ranieri was at the helm.

Before the World Cup break, Express Sport spoke exclusively to Hoddle was asked if the ex-Brighton coach would be axed if he failed to steer Chelsea into the top four this season. And the former Chelsea manager, speaking on behalf of Betfair, replied: “I think if Abramovich was still owner, yes [he’d lose his job].”

Fortunately for Potter, the days where trigger-happy Russian owner Abramovich would fire managers if they struggled to get results are long gone. It was a high-risk tactic that brought tangible results, with 21 trophies in his 19-year reign as owner before he sold the club in February following sanctions from the UK government.

Instead, Boehly has backed Potter for the long-term and that has allowed the Englishman to relax a little while working with his side on the training ground during the World Cup break to iron out the issues behind their poor run of form.

Hoddle thinks there is a clear shift in policy from the Abramovich days when he would try to sign the best players available, as there is now a clear focus on the future and Potter has been charged with nurturing young players into world-class stars. And that means he will be awarded some leniency in terms of where Chelsea finish, providing it is not outside the European places.

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“I’ve got a feeling the new philosophy at Chelsea is about time and effect, they’re looking a little bit longer term,” he added.

“That’s why they’ve brought Graham in, with a vision for younger players to produce to go into the first team rather than just bring them in, send them out on loan and sell them. They don’t have to buy at the top end all the time. I think there’s a slight difference at Chelsea now, so the manager will need a bit of time on that.

“I think he could finish outside of the top four as long as they [Boehly and Eghbali] are seeing progression in a positive way with these youngsters. But if they finished eighth in the league he’d be in trouble because Chelsea are used to silverware, success and the fans have a lot of power behind them. Owners sometimes get persuaded.”

Chelsea are currently eighth in the Premier League and eight points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand ahead of their trip to face Bournemouth on December 27.

To read more from Betfair ambassador Glenn Hoddle, head over to their website.

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