Changes are needed at Chelsea, but not on the touchline

Graham Potter’s poor start at Chelsea got even poorer on the first day of 2023 as his team drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest, and frankly didn’t deserve much more from the game.

They now sit down in eighth in the Premier League, seven points off a top-four spot having won just one of their last seven league games.

As a result, many are starting to wonder whether Potter is the right man for the job, but Todd Boehly would be wise to make changes on the pitch before switching managers again.

Whether sacking Thomas Tuchel was a good decision on the American owner’s part is very much up for debate, but picking Potter as his successor most certainly was. The 47-year-old worked wonders at Brighton, getting excellent results while playing exciting football, and is one of the best young managers around.

He hasn’t been able to impress as much in his new job just yet, but there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll be able to do so if given time and a squad that suits his needs.

The Englishman hardly hit the ground running at Brighton with the team finishing down in 15th with just 41 points and nine wins in his first season there. That’s largely because he didn’t have players particularly well suited to playing his possession-based, high-pressing style of play, and he has a similar issue at Chelsea.

That issue starts at the back. Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly are both excellent defenders but neither is particularly mobile or quick off the mark, making the team vulnerable to counter-attacks when they play as high a line as Potter likes to.

Meanwhile in midfield, Potter doesn’t have many players that are able to press hard, win the ball and get forward – Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are far more passive players and N’golo Kante is past his best.

The problem up top needs no explaining with the club lacking a top striker able to link up play as well as score goals for a long, long time now.

Thankfully, Chelsea are one of the richest clubs in the world and have the ability to address all those issues in the transfer market. If they do so, giving Potter the players he needs, he could well turn things around as he did at Brighton.

Doing so shouldn’t be too difficult either, with a number of quicker centre-backs and dynamic midfielders around and available for the right price, including one that worked with Potter at Brighton and would surely like to do so again in Alexis Mac Allister, one of the stars of the World Cup.

Getting a top striker is admittedly tough in the current market, but there are good options out there such as Memphis Depay, who could be available for next to nothing and has everything they need on paper.

Boehly may be reluctant to provide financial backing to a manager that hasn’t started well but, ultimately, it’s a risk worth taking.

He need only look north to Manchester for proof of that, where Erik ten Hag is turning things around at Old Trafford after being allowed to get rid of one of the best players ever and spend a huge amount of money on two players that had never played at a higher club level than the Eredivisie before, including a centre-back that most said was too short to succeed in the Premier League.

Young exciting managers that can play entertaining football while getting results are hard to come by, and when you get one, you should do everything you can to help them succeed.