n the end, ChelseaThe owners of ‘s felt they had no choice but to part with the man they had chosen to lead their new era at Stamford Bridge.
Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali indicated that they wanted to break with the hire-and-fire culture under Roman Abramovich by Graham Potter a five-year contract when he was appointed in September.
They gave a £12 million a year deal to someone Boehly said “fits our vision”, promising to support him through a rebuild they felt would most likely be painful.
Boehly and Eghbali do not believe that lasting success comes from frequent head coach changes. They had resisted calls to fire Potter in recent weeks and wanted to give him time to change the situation.
But they couldn’t wait for him to get right and growing behind-the-scenes concerns have led to another ruthless dismissal from Chelsea.
Potter said earlier this year that he had the toughest job in football as expectations remained high despite radical changes within the club.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Potter, who faced difficult circumstances.
But he seemed like a coach torn between long-term planning and short-term impact. He failed to come up with a plan amid the chaos at Chelsea and his team lacked identity.
Boehly and Eghbali felt Potter was perfect to build a new culture at Chelsea due to his skills as a leader and track record of improving players and collaborating with staff.
But he struggled to exert command over a squad that grew to 32 players after a frenetic January that brought seven new signings to the club.
Potter was loved by the Chelsea side, but there were signs of discontent behind the scenes. Some players made references to Harry Potter and disrespected a manager who had never managed at an elite level before.
Analysis meetings in Cobham would be very quiet, with leaders in the squad not naturally loud or supportive of the group. A senior source described how often “everything felt wrong” and that they couldn’t pinpoint one specific tactical problem to solve.
His critics will say that Potter failed to bring out the best in a squad bursting with talent after spending more than £600 million. He could claim he got a hospital pass.
The board itself played a role in Potter’s failure.
Such a large squad could have been unworkable for any manager and some players were surprised to see Boehly and Eghbali so often in training sessions.
Summer signings Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly have all struggled as January’s arrival is understandably still settling in English football.
Only Enzo Fernandez and Joao Felix helped the team immediately, with Mykhailo Mudryk, David Datro Fofana and Noni Madueke all showing signs of promise but needing time to adapt.
There was frustration that new signings were picked despite multiple poor performances when homegrown or older players were not.
Potter never won Chelsea fans desperate for an A-list coach.
Replacing a hugely popular manager in Thomas Tuchel was never going to be easy and he showed a misunderstanding of the culture at a club used to winning big trophies.
Potter frequently spoke of “suffering” and “pain,” but that is not the attitude adherents expect. He has also faced accusations that he has not shown enough emotion on the sidelines and at press conferences.
But it’s the results on the field that cost Potter his job. He suffered 11 defeats in 31 games and Chelsea languishes in 11th place in the Premier League.
Potter guided Chelsea to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but eventually sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart reported that the lack of progress had become unbearable for the board and that change was needed.
The focus now shifts to appointing a replacement and salvaging a terrible season, with the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid on April 12.
Hopes of a top four finish are gone and there is a very real prospect of finishing below Fulham, Brighton and Brentford and missing out on Europe completely next season.
But the long-term plan for success remains with Chelsea and will now be built around a new coach.
Boehly and Eghbali have instructed Winstanley and Stewart to begin an extensive search for a new manager, with Julian Nagelsmann the first contender for the job.
Potter’s successor joins a club still deeply in transition.
For now, interim head coach Bruno Saltor is taking charge of the team following the latest twist in one of the most chaotic seasons in Chelsea’s history.