Graham Potter sees ‘step forward’ for Chelsea despite defeat in Dortmund
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Jose Mourinho’s comments on Chelsea under the guidance of Frank Lampard four years ago paint a grim picture for the future of Graham Potter, who finds himself under pressure at Stamford Bridge after a lacklustre few months in charge. The former Brighton and Hove Albion manager has struggled to get the Blues firing on all cylinders since replacing Thomas Tuchel earlier this season and was left frustrated on Wednesday as Chelsea were beaten by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League knockout stages.
Karim Adeyemi’s second-half strike proved to be the winner for the German outfit, who were inferior to the Blues for large parts of the contest but managed to convert one of their two shots on target to claim the spoils and take a narrow advantage into next month’s second-leg clash at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea lacked hugely in terms of an end product, with none of their 21 attempts on goal finding the back of the net, although Potter insisted after the final whistle that he was pleased with the collective showing of his misfiring players.
“Training as a group has been fantastic so the spirit’s there in the team,” said Potter. “It’s just we need a little bit of luck and to carry on the performance level that we had tonight. We need to try to keep improving.
“We were pushing at the time [of the goal] and were the better team so to concede in that manner is what we’re disappointed in but the players are honest. They know they can do better than that. We’ll probably focus on the positive, which was that the performance was another step forward for us.
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“Before the game we were looking at Reece [James], Ruben [Loftus-Cheek], Ben [Chilwell] and Kalidou [Koulibaly]. It’s their first and second games for some time and it isn’t easy to pick up the speed of the Champions League but they did it really well. You’ve still got three new players coming in and again playing against a team that is in a good moment.
“Hopefully we will improve and then in three weeks’ time, we can take the game at Stamford Bridge. They know the situation that we’re in and they know the challenges that we have but it’s exciting.”
However, the decision by Potter to praise his side’s performance is unlikely to have gone down well with former Blues boss Mourinho, who insisted back in 2019 that a club like Chelsea should not be lowering their standards beyond the very highest levels if they want to remain one of Europe’s most feared teams.
“When you start accepting defeats just because your team played well and just because your players gave their best, a performance for people to be proud of… I think when you get used to it, that’s when the big clubs stop being big clubs,” said Mourinho.
It remains to be seen whether Potter will be able to turn things around at Chelsea over the coming weeks and months as he looks to ease the growing pressure on his shoulders as a matter of priority. The Blues will have a golden chance to pick up a much-needed victory against bottom-dwellers Southampton on the weekend, with the Saints still on the lookout for a new manager following the sacking of Nathan Jones after just 14 games earlier this month.
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