Graham Potter has described managing Chelsea as “the hardest job in football.”
Thursday night, Chelsea will travel to Fulham in an effort to snap a dismal nine-game losing streak that has seen them fall to 10th place in the Premier League standings.
It is not the start to the season that the club’s new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital had in mind when they took over in May, after Roman Abramovich had been sanctioned for allegedly having ties to Vladimir Putin.
Thomas Tuchel was replaced as head coach by Potter last summer, and other key executives like Marina Granovskaia, the club’s director and top transfer negotiator, Petr Cech, chairman Bruce Buck, chief executive Guy Laurence, and Scott McLachlan also left their positions.
Since then, Boehly has hired Laurence Stewart, who will serve as the “global technical director,” and Laurence Vivell, a technical director from RB Leipzig. Joe Shields, a senior recruiter from Southampton, is also expected to join the team soon.
And Potter said: “Change is challenging in any organisation. The change [of ownership] happened for events outside of us so it is not like there is some sort of coup gone on. This is what it is.
“We have to deal with the new now and we have to build things up again because things have changed, things have gone, people have left. That was part of the challenge to come [here].
“I understood that was going to be really difficult. I just thought from a leadership perspective, it is fascinating, challenging and stimulating and ridiculously hard.
“I think this is probably the hardest job in football because of that leadership change and because of the expectations and because of rightly where people see Chelsea. And obviously I didn’t think we would lose 10 first-team players [to injury] as well.
“But that’s just where we’re at. All I can do is come to you guys, speak honestly, give you my perspective and then understand the criticism you’ll get because you lose, if you do.”
Potter said he was not interested in winning any sympathy amid rising criticism of the team’s performances despite Chelsea supporters screaming Tuchel and Abramovich’s names during Sunday’s 4-0 FA Cup third-round loss at Manchester City.
“Ultimately, I am not after pity here,” he added. “I am really grateful and privileged to be here. I look at how do you get through this tough period: be really grateful for it because it is an unbelievable challenge. Like, wow. What else could you be doing with your life? Worse.
“It is pain but then life can actually be pain. Life can really kick you in the nuts and then you have to recover from it, you have to deal with it, you have to move forward, you have to go again and that’s what makes life better when it turns to a good place.
“I feel like I have to take my responsibility and be grateful for the opportunity and the challenge I have.”