Chelsea are starting to gather real momentum after claiming their third win in a row and the Stamford Bridge hierarchy are being rewarded for their trust, patience and faith.
It’s been a challenging first season for the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership following their £4.25 billion takeover last May. After a huge decision to bring Graham Potter to the club last September, Chelsea went on a nine-game unbeaten run to begin the 47-year-old’s tenure.
But since the 4-1 thrashing by Brighton & Hove Albion on October 29, it was only downhill for the Blues who went on to win just three of their next 17 games in all competitions.
Frustration was growing and tensions were rising at Chelsea and it left Boehly and Co to make a big decision over Potter. Games against Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund were ‘make or break’ and could have defined his future in west London.
What happened next? They passed both with flying colours, a 100 percent win completion. A 1-0 win over Leeds was followed up by a huge 2-0 win against Dortmund in the Champions League to progress into the quarter-finals.
Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge under the lights felt like a turning point. Emotion, unity and togetherness were all on display. Even Boehly’s embrace of Potter in the tunnel at full-time felt huge.
Potter refused to get carried away while the players, who have stuck by their manager, made it crystal clear what they thought of the Chelsea head coach. Kai Havertz, in particular, was vocal, saying: “We know that the pressure is coming at him. You can see that he’s a big manager. In the media I cannot believe how many people have to talk to him.
“We have hundreds of coaches in England you know, that think they know better than him! We know in the changing room that he has a big personality and a big manager for us!
“He helps us all a lot, me included, so we are 100 percent behind him. Even though the people don’t see it, today everyone saw that he’s a big manager.”
Boehly has been one of the biggest supporters of Potter, wanting to give him time to succeed in west London, and the clash against Leicester City was arguably as big as the previous two matches which ended in victory.
Chelsea headed to the King Power Stadium with one mission: to win. And that’s exactly what they did.
Ben Chilwell netted the opener with a superb strike after 11 minutes. Kai Havertz restored the lead in first half stoppage time after an exquisite scoop from Enzo Fernandez found the German who lifted it over Danny Ward.
Mateo Kovacic sealed the three points by adding a third 12 minutes from time, volleying home from close range to clinch Chelsea a 3-1 win – their third in a row – capping off a perfect week for the Blues.
Chilwell highlighted the scenes at full-time as the players embraced the travelling section of supporters. He told Chelsea’s in-house media: “I love the way the fans got behind us. They have done all season, it’s been a difficult season but they’ve stuck with us.
“Then the scenes at the end, seeing all the fans, thankfully we gave them three points. It was just a good moment at the end to celebrate with them, to show that togetherness that we all have.”
Chelsea have one more game to play this month, against Everton, before the international break and Potter will be hoping this week has meant a corner has been turned.
The 47-year-old knows how big of a week it has been for him personally and the squad, to restore the faith in the squad which he accepts have been criticised fairly.
“There is a difference that a week makes,” said the Chelsea head coach after the 3-1 win versus Leicester. “Results help things, it develops belief and confidence. Really pleased for the players because they’ve had a tough period but they’ve been rewarded with a really positive week.
“The mentality was good, then the quality shone through in the end.”
Things are looking up for Chelsea now and the owners’ decision to stick by Potter and trust him is paying off. It’s only three wins but it’s a start and the Blues will hope it’s only upwards from here until the end of the season.
“Every game now between here and the end of the season is going to have to be that same mindset: a must win match,” concluded Chilwell. “We’ve still got big aspirations for the season.”
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