LONDON — Coach Graham Potter paid for Chelsea’s poor form as the Englishman was sacked yesterday after just seven months in the job.
The Blues had slipped to 11th in the Premier League table after a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday despite spending over £500 million (RM2.7 billion) on new signings this season.
Former Brighton defender Bruno Saltor has been placed in interim charge.
Chelsea have won just three games in their last 11 but have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League where they face defending champions Real Madrid.
That tie may have been the decisive factor in the club’s new American owners pulling the trigger now, with the first leg in Madrid just 10 days away.
“We have the highest degree of respect for Graham as a coach and as a person. He has always conducted himself with professionalism and integrity and we are all disappointed in this outcome,” co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said in a statement.
“We have 10 Premier League games remaining and a Champions League quarter-final ahead. We will put every effort and commitment into every one of those games so that we can end the season on a high.”
An unlikely run to the club’s third European Cup now appears Chelsea’s only route back into the Champions League next season as they sit 12 points adrift of the Premier League top four.
Potter becomes the second manager sacked by the consortium led by LA Dodgers co-owner Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital in their first season in charge.
Thomas Tuchel, who was appointed Bayern Munich boss last week, was dismissed in September, just over a year from leading Chelsea to Champions League glory.
Chelsea paid £21.5m in compensation to Brighton to appoint Potter.
But that sum pales into comparison next to the fortunes the club have spent on players over the past 12 months with little return.
Argentine World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez was signed for a new English transfer record £106 million in January, while huge sums were also spent on Mykhailo Mudryk, Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella and Raheem Sterling.
But Potter has struggled to strike upon a winning blend as he switched between formations and personnel without success.
The 47-year-old won just 12 of his 31 matches in charge and was widely booed by the Chelsea support after defeat to Villa at the weekend.
“I don’t like to blame anybody, I have to take responsibility,” said Potter after that match.
“We can feel the pain of the supporters… I understand when you lose at home, the emotion of the game is such that people are going to be disappointed and frustrated and angry.
“Where we are in the league table, no one’s happy with. Whatever criticism comes I have to accept.”
Saltor’s first match in charge will be tomorrow when Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge. — AFP