Graham Potter was spotted by Chelsea fans walking to his transport on Thursday night following their 2-1 defeat to Fulham in the Premier League.
It was another night to forget for Chelsea as the problems worsened for the Blues. Another defeat, their seventh in ten games, without a win in 2023, as they lost the west London derby and with 10-men.
Despite impressing, Joao Felix was sent off on debut after former Chelsea winger Willian put the hosts ahead at Craven Cottage. Kalidou Koulibaly levelled the scores up two minutes into the second half from close range, but in the 73rd minute Carlos Vinicius headed in at the back post to punish a Kepa Arrizabalaga to seal a fourth league win in a row for Fulham.
Chelsea are down in 10th place, the pressure is increasing on Potter with the problems continuing to deepen and worsen. Denis Zakaria’s injury and Felix’s red card, who was Chelsea’s bright spark, summed up the position they currently find themselves in.
“It’s really frustrating and incredibly challenging,” reflected Potter at full-time. “I feel for the supporters. We’re disappointed to lose tonight. I thought it was a relatively even game in the first half and we had a couple of good chances. I think the basics we can do better in terms of our defending and some of our football actions.
“But at the same time, we get back in the game and then the red card… it’s where we’re at at the moment in terms of things that can happen to us. We lost Denis beforehand as well and were just adjusting with Jorginho and then Joao – who was having a fantastic impact on the game and you could see his quality – to lose him and to lose him for three matches is really disappointing.”
Backing of the Chelsea head coach continues to split as the results worsen. He still has a large number supporting him, but if results carry on the way they are, it will pile the pressure on even further.
The Chelsea owners’ stance on the 47-year-old remains unmoved. Although there was emphasis on the SW6 derby, regardless of the result, Potter was never in jeopardy of losing his job due to having the full patience and confidence of the club.
After doing his necessary media duties and speaking to his team in the dressing room at full-time, Potter left the ground separately from his players – it was a local game – and was guided by Chelsea security into his vehicle along with other members of staff.
He was seen by supporters and was given messages of encouragement from a select few individuals.
One said: “Don’t give up.”
Another shouted: “We believe. Keep the faith. Change the squad, they are the problem.”
Sunday is now huge for Chelsea. They face Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge and Potter will be hoping for a positive atmosphere, but nobody really knows what the reception will be.
After cries of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ by sections of the travelling fans on Thursday, Chelsea is becoming more hostile and it’s down to Potter to try to ease the tensions to keep everyone as together as possible.
If he thought he had the ‘hardest job in football’ earlier this week, it’s only gone and got harder.
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