Football: Chelsea’s Potter says he is not the problem after latest loss

Graham Potter acknowledged the frustration of fans, who booed the Blues off after their defeat by Southampton. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON – Chelsea manager Graham Potter acknowledged the frustration of fans who booed the Blues off after a 1-0 home defeat by the English Premier League’s bottom club Southampton on Saturday, but said his critics were wrong to put all the blame on him.

“After a 1-0 defeat at home, any criticism you get is understandable,” Potter said after his side’s latest failure to find the net.

“We have had a tough period and we have had lots of challenges in terms of integrating younger players into the Premier League.”

The former Brighton & Hove Albion boss, who replaced Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel when the German was fired by Chelsea’s new owners last September, added that it was tough when results went badly.

“That’s how it is and I am sure there will be people out there who think that I’m the problem. I don’t think that they are right but I am not arrogant enough to say that their opinion isn’t worth articulating,” Potter said.

However, the Premier League’s all-time top scorer Alan Shearer warned: “It’s a worrying time for him, he’s under huge pressure.”

He said on the BBC: “One win in ten, four goals in the last ten games in all competitions. Nowhere near good enough in the forward position. Miles away from it... At times, I’m lost to see what they’re trying to do.”

Potter said he assumed responsibility for Chelsea’s poor first half when his team – with six changes from the side who lost but played well at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek – went behind to a free-kick by Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse shortly before the break.

“The truth is, we took a step back in terms of our performance in the first half,” Potter said.

“The response in the second half was good, but obviously it wasn’t good enough.”

Former Aston Villa and England forward Gabriel Agbonlahor, however, said on talkSPORT: “He should be sacked for that post-match interview. What’s he talking about? You’re playing against a team that are in disarray, they’ve not got a manager, they can’t get back-to-back wins and you’re complaining that you’ve had to bring (Mykhailo) Mudryk off the bench, you’ve had to start (Joao) Felix, are you joking?”

Big-spending Chelsea – who splashed out over £300 million (S$482.8 million) on players in January alone – have now won just two games in their last 15 in all competitions.

Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta sustains an injury after a challenge from Southampton’s Sekou Mara. PHOTO: REUTERS

Saturday’s defeat left Chelsea in 10th place, far off a top-four finish needed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Meanwhile, Saints interim manager Ruben Selles praised his side’s fighting spirit and said they remain alive in the EPL despite being bottom of the table.

“This group needed this booster to continue, and this team is alive and needs to be alive for the rest of the season, needs to perform together,” he said. AFP, REUTERS

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