Chelsea FC Q&A: Nizaar Kinsella on Graham Potter, Thomas Tuchel, Todd Boehly and more

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Welcome to the Evening Standard’s live Q&A with Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella.

Graham Potter is set to be named Chelsea’s new head coach after agreeing to take over at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues moved quickly to appoint Brighton manager Potter after sacking Thomas Tuchel and there’s plenty to discuss.

Chelsea owners believe Potter is the man to lead the new era in west London, but what can fans expect from the 47-year-old?

What tactic will Potter employ? What are its biggest challenges? Can he handle big-name players in the Chelsea dressing room?

Why was the decision to sack Tuchel taken now, a week after the transfer window closed in which they spent almost £300million? Did a row over Cristiano Ronaldo lead to Tuchel’s departure and what does his exit mean for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

With so much to discuss, Nizaar is on hand to answer your questions on all things Chelsea.

Follow our Chelsea LIVE Q&A with Nizaar below…

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That’s it, friends!

Thank you for submitting your questions, if Nizaar has not answered yours there will be many more opportunities down the road.

Until next time, ta-rah!

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Why didn’t the club replace Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia? Does this have anything to do with Tuchel’s departure?

Roman Abramovich had a very unusual structure for a big club with Granovskaia and Petr Cech. It worked for them, but it wasn’t a typical structure that you see at Liverpool or Manchester City with a traditional sporting director model.

Chelsea will move towards a more structured approach with an experienced sporting director, who is expected to be former Liverpool chief Michael Edwards.

They can then appoint their own support staff with roles to be filled massively in recruitment after Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali led the summer transfer business.

The delay came because Edwards wanted to take a break from football and alternatives could be found if he doesn’t join.

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Is Todd Bohely’s strategy of being practical going to be a problem for Potter?

I know a lot of supporters are unhappy with the new owners’ decision and blame them for Tuchel’s departure.

I have more sympathy for hearing about discontent, especially on the player side, for some time.

Boehly was open to having his request to sign Ronaldo turned down and provided Tuchel with great resources.

I feel like management is a challenge in any job and I don’t see the Boehly-Clearlake diet as a problem at this early stage.

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What will be the biggest challenge for Potter at Chelsea?

Chelsea remain a huge unknown in general and I think the scrutiny around the club will be the main challenge.

It’s incomparable to his role at Brighton, which although grand, is by no means on the same scale as Stamford Bridge.

I think Potter will be convinced that his training methods will improve players and get results, but can he handle all that comes with it?

These aspects had a negative impact on Tuchel in the end.

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What future for Thomas Tuchel?

It’s far too early to predict where Thomas Tuchel will end up and he usually likes to take a break from work.

Chelsea fought to bring him on so soon after he was sacked from Paris Saint-Germain in December 2020.

However, all of Europe knows what Tuchel is and he has a strong agent so expect to see him in a rival dugout soon.

Manchester United and Barcelona have tried for him in the past. Tottenham have been linked in the past. Smaller Premier League clubs also tried before joining PSG.

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Why was Zinedine Zidane never considered by Chelsea? Has the club ever approached him?

Zidane seems reluctant to work in the English game due to his limited ability to speak English.

Chelsea were never going to push for a manager who feels himself ill-suited for the role.

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Aren’t there fears of bringing in Potter ‘for the long haul’ but losing him to the England post if the World Cup doesn’t go as planned?

You are correct that Graham Potter will be there to build for the longer term and will sign a five-year contract.

Chelsea owners rightly believe they will need a longer-term fixture to really challenge the dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool, building a great team for many years to come, like these two clubs l have done under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Indeed, they hire a lot of staff from City and Liverpool to run the operation behind the scenes.

Plugging Potter into that is the plan to win a first Premier League title in six seasons.

Is England a threat to this construction? No. Potter wants to work in the day-to-day world of club management for the time being.

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Over the years, England managers have failed to steer teams to Premier League glory. What is Potter’s potential to be an exception with Chelsea?

There has certainly been suspicion or concern in the past that England coaches weren’t as talented as their overseas peers.

This has seen an influx of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and German managers into the Premier League.

However, I believe that has changed after a concerted effort within the Football Association (FA) and clubs to produce coaches as well as players.

Chelsea alone have been excellent at producing managers, so I think an English manager will soon win the Premier League.

It might be Graham Potter.

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What are the players saying? Why do they seem to play without determination and seem unfit? And the expansion of the stadium?

Chelsea players had a lot of respect for Tuchel as evidenced by almost the entire squad paying tribute to the late manager. Many of those who haven’t will have private messaged him.

While grateful to Tuchel, most aren’t as surprised as many supporters at his sacking either.

They’ve seen team members act or feel mistreated, and the players are talking too. They know many were unhappy under the manager and we all got to see which players underperformed.

Beyond a lack of drive and fitness, the body language has also been terrible this season, especially in the 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb.

Some would say that the pre-season tour of the United States had a negative impact on the player’s physical condition, with temperatures too high to train well. However, they had a good few weeks in London, so I doubt that’s a reasonable excuse.

The stadium expansion is considered a medium-term project and plans are being drawn up. Development plans are led by board member Jonathan Goldstein who is often alongside Todd Boehly and Behdad Egbahli.

There is an architect in place but, in the meantime, they are considering small improvements to the current Stamford Bridge which many fans have already seen.

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What is Potter’s style of play and tactics? Do you think he will be fit for Chelsea with the team they have?

Graham Potter’s playing style is similar in many ways to that of Thomas Tuchel; he favors possession football, solidity and energetic pressing.

Like Tuchel, he likes versatile players and moves his stars out of position when necessary.

The 47-year-old is a very responsive manager in the game and will often adjust his approach while watching his team react to threats and weaknesses from the opposition.

He doesn’t really have a set formation, but has recently used full-backs in a style similar to Tuchel’s preferred form.


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