Chelsea must 'hold their nerve' with struggling Potter, says Neville

By Sports Desk February 19, 2023

Chelsea need to keep faith in Graham Potter despite the "massive pressure" on their head coach, according to Gary Neville.

The Todd Boehly-led ownership group backed Potter significantly in the January transfer window, spending close to £300million to bring in a host of major signings.

Joao Felix arrived on a short-term loan from Atletico Madrid, while Chelsea beat Arsenal to Mykhaylo Mudryk and splashed a Premier League record £106.8million (€121m) on Enzo Fernandez from Benfica.

That has not eased Chelsea's woes, though, after the Blues went down 1-0 to top-flight strugglers Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday – leaving Potter with just one win in his last 10 games.

But former Manchester United captain Neville cannot see Boehly dismissing Potter just yet.

He said on his Gary Neville Podcast: "Potter is under massive pressure. You can see it in his face. The chances they missed in the second half and the boos at the end of the game, felt a little ominous.

"I think they'll want to do the right thing, the Chelsea owners.

"They've sacked a manager very early in the season in Thomas Tuchel, they've owned their new manager, they've brought recruitment assistants in alongside him, so they've invested heavily in Graham and his team… but they have to hold their nerve if they want to see it through.

"But I suspect that nerve is being tested, as any owner's would be when you've spent that level of money and you're losing games at home to the [side] bottom of the league."

Chelsea are languishing 10th in the Premier League, already 23 points behind leaders Arsenal and 11 from the top four, and their struggles in front of goal persist.

The Blues have scored just four goals in 10 matches in all competitions and failed to score in six of those games, drawing a blank in more outings in 2023 than any other Premier League club.

Neville believes a bloated squad is causing issues for Potter, who is yet to replicate his impressive work with Brighton and Hove Albion in his new job in west London.

"He's a fantastic coach," Neville said. "You get the idea he'd like to build a pattern of play with a group of players on a consistent basis and he's got 33 of them staring at him down the barrel saying 'play me'.

"And these aren't junior players, they're senior internationals and I can't imagine what it must be like to have 33 players.

"He's got 22 players who are not going to play. If they're all fit – how do you even get them all into a training session?

"They needed to unload players off Graham Potter to take the pressure of handling all those players that are expecting to play every single week."

Neville suggested Potter is suffering from contrasting interests at Chelsea, with Boehly keen to make statement signings.

"I've used the word chaotic and I think it has been chaotic in the first six months of the Boehly ownership," Neville said. "I won't change my mind on that.

"They've invested heavily, they're putting their money where their mouth is and are saying all the right things.

"But at this moment in time, it won't be a successful project when you have 33 players all looking at the manager and a manager who wants to build a measured project.

"It feels a little bit conflicted with what Potter would ordinarily be really strong at and what the ownership seem to want in respect of filling a squad and accumulating players of that sort of volume."

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