Chelsea FC owner Todd Boehly told difficult Graham Potter decision he must take to fulfil ‘exciting’ Chelsea plans

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has come under pressure after a poor run of results
Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has come under pressure after a poor run of results

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink appreciates there is no cure-all solution for Graham Potter at Chelsea. But the former Blues striker insists that shouldn’t deter owners Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali, and Jose E. Feliciano from sticking to their “exciting” vision for the club.

It was at the end of May that the Roman Abramovich era, one of sustained and unrivalled success, was brought to an end at Stamford Bridge. Much has happened since under the watch of the new ownership group – and not all of it has been popular, with several departures confirmed across the club.

The most high profile was the decision to part ways with popular head coach Thomas Tuchel in September. The German, who guided Chelsea to the 2021 Champions League, departed after a breakdown of his relationship with the new hierarchy. In his place came Graham Potter from Brighton and Hove Albion.

 

Potter started solidly, but there was a sharp downturn in results and performances prior to the World Cup. Injuries played their part in that, with the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, and N’Golo Kante sidelined for key Premier League fixtures.

Back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Newcastle United have increased pressure on Potter from those within the Chelsea fanbase. However, football.london understands his position at Stamford Bridge is not under threat. And Hasselbaink appreciates Potter will require some time to make the team his.

 

“I think you have to go for the longer-term vision,” Hasselbaink, speaking on behalf of Grosvenor Casinos earlier this month, explains. “With all due respect – and I liked Abramovich – but you can’t maintain it like that.

“If you want to build something, you have to build it from the bottom. Yes, there are going to be difficult moments, but you need to stay with the plan. You might have to tweak it here and there, but you have to stay with your beliefs, you have to stay with your vision, and you have to give the manager the time.

 

“Chelsea are far, far away from four or five years ago. They need to renew. There are a lot of players that are in their 30s and older. You have got [Thiago] Silva, you have got Jorginho, you have got [N’Golo] Kante, you have got [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Cesar] Azpilicueta, and even [Kalidou] Koulibaly.

 

“These are all players that are coming [towards the ends of their careers], and you can’t renew all of their contracts. You can maybe renew one or two – and that is Kante and maybe one more – but you have to then bring in top quality, and that cannot be done in one window,

 

“So you can’t challenge at the moment for the Premier League. It is going to take time. So when he [Potter] says there is going to be hurt, there is going to be pain, but hopefully, he can manage it in a way that he still stays in the top four. But being in the top four is going to be as hard as ever this year.”

 

Hasselbaink continues: “He’s a little bit unlucky because the squad is unbalanced at the moment. There’s no real right wing-back, and Chilwell is injured again, and with three centre-halves, they were a little bit light, so he’s been a little bit unlucky at that aspect because he needs to experiment a little bit more than he wants.

“But I think he will be a success. You know how he keeps himself, his mannerism, he’s very down to earth. And I feel that he has got an edge about him as well. You know, a silent edge and that is good, you know.

 

“I think you need to give him this year as he came after the window. He could not really bring the players in that he wanted – and January is a very difficult window. So I think if he can maintain Champions League status this year, then he would have a good year, and then next year, he can start building.”

 

Hasselbaink has firsthand experience with the changes that take place at a club under new ownership. He was a Chelsea player the summer Abramovich arrived and saw the Blues transform from a Premier League top-four hopeful to a side expected to compete against Arsenal for the title.

And he believes there are similarities with the Boehly-led takeover. “It’s the same process as when Abramovich came in,” Hasselbaink explains. “A lot of players came in. A lot of staff went. I was one of them: when Abramovich came, I had one year, then Mourinho arrived, and I left.

 

“That is more or less the same with this ownership: people will go, people will come. They have got their vision. They are entitled to have their vision. They are entitled to put everything in place, and they’ve got long-term plans for the club.

 

“It’s a really interesting and exciting time for the fans. They’ve got experience because they have done it with the baseball franchise in America. OK, football is a little bit different, but the business aspect of it is more or less the same.”

Boehly has taken a leading role at Chelsea since the takeover was completed. In addition to being co-owner and chairman, he is also acting as the club’s interim sporting director, something that resulted in criticism in the summer. Gary Neville, for instance, said the American billionaire was “playing Football Manager” due to the Blues’ scattergun approach in the transfer market.

 

“There is always going to be negativity when something positive happens at another club. There’s always going to be haters,” Hasselbaink says with a smile. “Whatever you say, people are going to have their opinion – and they are entitled to have their opinion.

 

“They’re entitled to say whatever they say, but I don’t think that it is going to stop the Chelsea owner. They need to have their vision, their direction, and you know, the more haters, the better for Chelsea. As simple as that.”

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